Vital Times 2020 - 77

aspects of people and bring them to the forefront;
he wasn't afraid to acknowledge diversity. When he
interacted with the residents, he could always make
you feel as if you were special and " worthy. " He always
encouraged us to seek paths less traveled and identify
an area or passion that only " you could own. " He
often said you will not stand out or be a trailblazer
if you didn't explore things that were unchartered
territory. I believe his actions set the tone for the
entire department, and I found the culture within the
Yale Department of Anesthesiology to be extremely
nurturing and supportive.
I soon identified Dr. Roberta Hines (who would later
become Chair during my residency) to be my mentor
and role model. No - she was not a man, or gay or
Latinx, or Ethiopian; I know what you are thinking -
how can she be a role model and mentor when she
doesn't represent a part of you. But Dr. Hines was
a physician who reached out to me and sought to
develop my talents and interests. She saw something
in me that I myself could not or did not recognize.
She was such an inspiration to me because she had
been breaking barriers of her own - mostly " glass
ceilings " as they pertained to women in medicine. She
was the Director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit,
an accomplished researcher, a lauded clinician and
a superhuman " Wonder Woman. " I thrived under her
guidance and mentorship and developed my unique
sets of skills that I could own. Over the course of four
and a half years as an anesthesia resident and faculty
member, I grew as a person and as a doctor. I made a
conscientious decision to help others based upon my
role models at Yale. More importantly, I learned to be
true to myself and not compromise my ideals or who I
am and what I represent. To this day, Dr. Hines is still
a mentor to me, a role model, and most of all a trusted
friend. I owe her and Dr. Barash a debt of gratitude,
and I hope that my career has been a means to " pay it
forward " for others.

Allies. After leaving Yale in 1996, I embarked on a
unique venture to start an anesthesia group based
out of a Catholic hospital in Florida. To say that
challenges existed would be an understatement -
however, I looked at it as " opportunities " for growth.
While serving as the President and CEO of the
anesthesia group, I was intent on creating alliances
with other leaders who could help augment the care
of persons our hospital served. At that time, we
were well into the AIDS crisis, and there was a large
LGBTQ community in our hospital's backyard that
needed complex services. With some trepidation,
I approached the hospital CEO (who was an older,
white, devoutly religious man) about developing
more assertive public relations, media campaigns,
and medical initiatives to build a bridge with our
local communities. Was I crazy to think he would
help the cause? I expected to be turned away with
my requests. As it turned out, he not only said,
" yes - let's do it, " he welcomed the opportunity for
me and others like me (meaning LGBTQ persons) to
work with him. We conquered many obstacles with
a team of passionate physicians and staff - we
developed stronger relationships with our LGBTQ
community, along with other marginalized groups
such as immigrants from Caribbean countries. In the
process, we improved care and displayed qualities
consistent with ethical and culturally competent
care. I continued my quest to slowly build bridges
with other medical facilities and expand our business
model. I slowly expanded our anesthesia workforce
to include physicians who were women, Black,
Latinx and LGBTQ. I wanted our anesthesia group to
resemble the population that we served - to make us
approachable and representative of the south Florida
melting pot. My group's approach was intentional - it
did not happen by accident.
Synergy. Fast forward to 2016.... I joined the

Southern California Permanente Medical Group
(SCPMG) and work at Kaiser Permanente Los

Annual Publication 2020

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