A Town Loses a Great Doctor, And a Model for Medical Care

It’s taken me nearly a week since a dear friend died in a car crash to write this blog. Steve Gradwohl was killed last Saturday at the age of 51 after his car veered through three lines of traffic on a freeway, then hit an embankment. In addition to being a loyal friend to many and a wonderful husband and father, he was also an internist. And the testimonials from the many patients he treated, provided in comments in this article, show that he wasn’t your typical doctor, but one that went above and beyond to respond to his patient’s concerns.  He received the Outstanding Clinician Award in 2012 from The University of Michigan Medical School. The outpouring from those who knew him only as their doctor was no surprise to me; he was both my husband’s and son’s physician. But what impressed me more was that he provided the same level of attention to all his patients. You rarely had to wait more than a day to get an appointment, and then he saw you within five minutes of your arrival, giving you his undivided attention and quickly getting to the diagnosis. His promptness was particularly astounding, given the fact that he had so many patients; everyone in our neighborhood seemed to see him. He provided his e-mail to his patients and often responded immediately whenever a patient had a question — even on the weekend — with his trademark “SEG” signature. I’m relaying this story about Steve not just because all of those close to him are reeling from this loss, but because I think it’s important to understand why he’s such a good doctor. Recently, I waited an hour with my daughter, who was ill and feverish, for her pediatrician to appear, only to have to endure the same experience a week later with my son’s dermatologist. When those doctors walked in the door, nary an apology was uttered. There’s a feeling that patients should feel fortunate to be part of such a fine medical establishment and just grin and bear it. Appointments take weeks to book; doctors can take several days to respond to questions and a weekend reply is unheard of. I’m sure the situation I face at my medical center isn’t uncommon. There will be many doctors among those gathering for tonight’s memorial to honor the memory of Steve. I hope his legacy will be that they aspire to provide the same level of care that this incredible doctor provided — something everyone should be able to expect from their physician.

2 replies on “A Town Loses a Great Doctor, And a Model for Medical Care”

Thank you for your moving comments about our son Steven. We are comforted in your words as we struggle with our profound grief. David and Hanna Gradwohl

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