Hi. My name’s Cassie and I’m here to take you back… At least that’s my spiel as a part-time transporter / surgical orderly. But I’d rather transport you to the 1960’s. 1963 to be exact. That was the year the Gonzaga family immigrated from the Philippines so Lolo could meet Frederick and Philip Smith. They would hire my great-grandfather at the same exact hospital that now employs me!
That was when men smoked in the OR. At the scrub in sink. There is one doctor remaining, an anesthesiologist, who can recount my great-grandfather’s hand-washing ritual. Dr. D told the story again today:
He would come at the same time every morning. And we’d say,”Dr. Gonzaga, you don’t have patients until after Dr. So and So finishes!” But he would wash his hands anyways, then sit there. In the room. Both arms up like this [as a referee announcing a fieldgoal]. All clean until the other doctor finished.
–here? [referring to the rooms behind the nurses’ station]
And I asked about the story of the fruit once more.
Oh, you know, for Grand Rounds, they would give us big baskets of fruit. And so we would see Dr. Gonzaga with a banana in one pocket here and apples in his side pockets there and oranges in his back pocket. And we would wonder what he was doing, but he was giving the fruit away to the nursing staff at his clinic!
As pictured his accounts with family stories of Lolo’s temper, Dr. D continued,
It used to be like that. We were all a family. Dr. Gonzaga lived right across from Dr. S and a couple doors down was Dr. C and, closer to the main road, was Dr. H. We would go in and out of each others’ houses all the time.
That was when we were still doing research on dogs too. We used to do a lot of that at Smith Clinic. It was here that Dr. Uddin discovered the Uddin umbrella. Do you know what the Uddin umbrella is? President Nixon got one and they are still using that procedure today. Uddin was a cardiologist, here, at Smith Clinic.
In fact, Frederic [Smith] once brought in his dog for surgery. He removed a kidney stone in the lab.
—wait, how’d he know that?!?!
He found the blood in the urine and diagnosed it with a kidney stone. So I did the anesthesia. I did the anesthesia for the research lab in the afternoons… And when your great-grandfather had that ruptured aneurysm, I remember doing anesthesia for him…
I got along very well with Dr. Gonzaga. He was kind of quiet. And he wouldn’t agree that you should place a lens after removal of the cataract [what is now opthamology standard] But we got along. He was a good man. He would go every year to the Philippines, take our old equipment over, and deliver babies, do breast surgery, stomach surgery. Everything. He practiced in the mountains. He was a freedom fighter. Did you know he fought for the resistance?
I glanced at the clock and had to fetch the next patient. But my thoughts remained with my great-Lolo, who never learned to drive a car but served American soldiers in WWII. Who gave my dad terrible spankings but let his five children and their families live in his basement and sent countless nieces and nephews through college. Who left me an inheritance of family, freedom, and faith.
I can’t help but wonder, who are the practitioners in your life that left a legacy of service?