Friday, November 11, 2011 5:07 PM

Community affiliates sweep Heroes in Healthcare Awards

Since 2006, Business Street Media Group Heroes in Healthcare Awards have recognized extraordinary individuals in the Valley health care community who have made personal sacrifices to help so many others in the region.

This year four of the seven award recipients are affiliated with Community Medical Centers and were honored at the annual Heroes in Healthcare Awards Ceremony at the Bankers Ballroom in Fresno on Nov. 3.

Dr. Peter Simonian

Healthcare Professional recipient - Dr. Peter Simonian – Simonian Sports Medicine Clinic

Board certified in orthopaedic surgery, Dr. Peter Simonian is a Healthgrades® recognized physician. Growing up in the Valley Dr. Simonian did not make the decision to become a doctor until his college days. Trained in some of the finest educational institutions across the nation, Dr. Simonian completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, WA., as well as a sports medicine fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Cornell University, New York, NY., where he was an associate professor in sports medicine after his training.
Dr. Simonian’s approach to treating patients at the Simonian Sports Medicine Clinic is to provide the finest possible medical care to injured athletes of all ages and all levels from the recreational to the elite. His clinic also offers the same caliber of care for nearly every knee and shoulder injury or degenerative condition resulting from an accident or work- related event. Dr. Simonian’s primary expertise of his practice is minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, knee and shoulder reconstruction and treatment for all sports related fractures and trauma. The Simonian Sports Medicine Clinic is an environment that allows the study and integration of the latest research and technology in patient care.

Dr. Robert Libke

Physician recipient – Dr. Robert Libke – University Medical Specialty Center – CCFMG

A resident of Fresno since 1974, Dr. Robert Libke joined the UCSF faculty in 1978 working for the Central California Faculty Medical Group. At one time, Dr. Libke was the infectious disease expert for the entire region of central California and has seen patients at most the hospitals in the area. He successfully led the development of the first infectious disease fellowship in Fresno in 2008 which attracted more infectious disease specialists to train in the Valley.  Dr. Libke is the long-term chairman of the Institutional Review Board Committee, which oversees patient safety in research and is board certified in internal medicine and infectious disease.

Before joining CCFMG, Dr. Libke was a flight surgeon with the United States Air Force and a clinical instructor at UCLA. His numerous awards include the Kaiser Teaching Award (1990) and Faculty of the Year (2000-2001). He is well known for his research on Valley fever and is highly sought after for consultation with patients suspected of contracting this often misdiagnosed disease.

Dr. Kenneth O'Brien

Volunteer Recipient – Dr. Kenneth O’Brien – Community Regional Medical Center

A wealth of knowledge sits behind the information desk at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno. At 92 years of age, Dr. Kenneth O’Brien is often seen at his post in the hospital helping patients and visitors with all their informational needs. For more than a decade, Dr. O’Brien has volunteered to help others in need at the hospital. Prior to his post as volunteer, Dr. O’Brien practiced for 56 years in the Fresno area.

He was recently honored as one of Community Medical Centers 2011 “Ultimate People” for his years of dedication and service. During his time as a physician, Dr. O’Brien served on the original Sequoia Hospital and Community boards for 43 years before being awarded emeritus status. Dr. O’Brien was born on a ranch north of Fowler and attended Lone Star Grammar School and Fowler High School. He later graduated from Fresno State and UC Irvine College of Medicine.  Besides his volunteer work at Community Regional, Dr. O’Brien attends the Church of Christ two mornings a week.

From l to r: Josh Daniels, Patrick Coleman and Dan Branch, represented Community Regional Medical Center Cardiovascular Services at the event

Innovation recipient – HeartMate II – Cardiovascular Services – Community Regional Medical Center

The day after Thanksgiving 2010, cardiac surgeon Pervaiz Chaudhry and his team at Community Regional Medical Center  installed the Valley’s first portable heart pump – a device that gives new hope for those waiting for heart transplants. The hospital is the only one between Sacramento and Los Angeles with the expertise, technology and approval for the HeartMate II LVAD pump, according to the pump manufacturer. And it is one of a dozen or so in the nation approved to use the pump without a heart transplant program.

The HeartMate II is a continuous-flow pump that takes over the work for the heart’s left ventricle, the main pumping chamber. The small, lightweight device includes a pump implanted inside the body and batteries and a controller worn outside the body and carried in a pouch at the waist or in a vest that allows the patient to be active and mobile. The pump allows the patient time in waiting for a new heart and has at times been called a “bridge” to a heart transplant.  A representative at the pump’s manufacturer said that for some patients the HeartMate is the destination treatment and considered a permanent fix.

Mary Lisa Russell reported this story. She can be reached at