President’s Message

Posted on Nov 3, 2020 in President's Message | 0 comments

This month I would like to try something different.

We are a big medical center with a lot of doctors, and some members of the medical staff I just don’t regularly encounter through my clinical practice as an emergency physician. I’m sure that some of you feel similarly in your daily practice, and as such, I am starting an interview series: “An evening with one of your Summit Medical Staff.”

I would like to start this series with a colleague that to this date I have only met through meetings, but who continually impresses me with the deftness of his comments and his appreciation of the intricacies of other specialties. Not to mention that he is the hippest dressed doctor at Summit!

Sebastian Sasu, MD, chair of Pathology.

Me: “Thanks for giving me some time this evening Sebastian. I know you have a busy schedule, so I appreciate you allowing me to intrude.

SS: Any time for you, Jeff.

Me: So I wanted to do this so that we can learn a little more about you. What made you choose to be a pathologist? We used to have a running joke in my med school that pathologists like dead people…

SS: So, this is going to sound really weird, but the reason I chose pathology is because I like to have the last say. (laughter ensues) We used to go to these multispecialty conferences, the internal medicine doctor would stand up and present the case, and they would tell us all about the patient and how he came in, and then they would say that they got all these radiology studies done, and then he would turn to the radiologist, who would stand up and say “oh, we did these studies and we found this really weird mass, and then we did a biopsy of it.” And then everybody would turn to the pathologist and ask, “what did this patient have?” There is definitely a satisfaction to figuring out what is going on.

Me: If you were not a doctor, what would you be?

SS: A journalist. I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. I’ve always wanted to travel to these fantastic places and cover amazing stories. That sense of get up and go and adventure has always been very enticing.

Me: I know you spent some time practicing in LA. Let’s get down to brass tax, are you an LA or NY guy, or has the Bay area stolen your heart?

SS: That’s a hard answer. I spent some time on the east coast, in Boston, and when I was there, I was a Boston guy, then when I moved to LA, I was still a Boston guy living in LA. But then I spent so much time in LA that I ended up being an LA guy. And then my wife pried me away from that, kicking and screaming, and moved us to the Bay Area. And you know, it was a process, people talk about the difference between Southern California and Northern California, and it’s there. The thing I liked about LA, and what I miss about it, is that there’s a lot more ritz, than there is in the Bay Area.

Me: What’s the rest of the pathology department like? Are they as cool as you? I envision you all sitting around drinking absinthe… or maybe that’s toxicology folks.

SS: Probably not, but about half of the department is as cool if not cooler than I am. You know I’ve been encouraging everybody to be more interactive and show their face more, but believe it or not, we have a lot of clinicians, different specialties come by the pathology department and interact with us. Medicine has changed a lot, in the last 5-10 years. It used to be that certain clinicians that we interact with quite a lot would be in our office everyday looking with us at slides, getting to understand the subtleties of when we make a diagnosis. Like what the gray zones are, what the comfort level was at making a diagnosis.

Me: Can anything gross you out, or are you immune to that sort of thing?

SS: Oh man, nothing can gross me out.

Me: What was your most recent ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – a sort of pleasant paresthesia that goes down the spine) moment?

SS: My what? I don’t know what that is. (explanation above ensues). Nope. (refuses to answer)

Me: Describe to me your perfect evening.

SS: Weekday or weekend? It’s different. Ok – weekday, come home, have a nice dinner with my family, have a nice glass of wine, read my book. Weekend – go out for a drink or dinner, catch a band, and have some good cocktails.

Me: What’s the last book you’ve read? Or what are you reading now?

SS: I am reading a fantasy book, believe it or not. It’s called the Black Song by Anthony Ryan, one of my favorite fantasy writers.

Me: You seem to enjoy the finer pleasures. Cosmopolitan, Martini, Manhattan, or none of the above?

SS: None of the above. I’m actually a custom cocktail kinda guy. I don’t do a lot of the traditional ones. The only traditional ones I do are margaritas and mai-tai’s. But I do a bunch of custom cocktails. My wife does gin and tonics, so I modify her gin and tonics quite a bit, an example would be a dark and stormy with muddled mint. It’s halfway between a dark and stormy and a mojito.

Me: How has the pandemic affected you? Not just at work, but personally?

SS: Both positive and negative. So positive, it’s brought me closer to my family. So we’re spending a lot more time together, and it’s been a lot of fun. Negatively, it’s been the lack of a routine exercise regimen.

Me: Second to you, who’s the coolest person in the medical center to sit down and have a drink with?

SS: There’s actually quite a few people that I would love to do that with. You’re trying to pin me down to one person. That’s a tough thing. Shlomo Leibowich.

Me: PC, Apple, or Linux?

SS: Apple anyday. Anyday and twice on Sunday.

Me: Thanks for giving me almost, gosh, 30 minutes of your time tonight. I hope this was fun for you. It was for me.

SS: And pretty honest answers that are not censored. For whatever that’s worth. I hope I’m not going to be in big trouble.

The above was edited for content and time.

A few reminders for this month.

The physician engagement survey is live and running for the next 3 weeks. A raffle for Apple Airpods goes to one winner from each campus each week. Please fill out the survey (was sent to your email last week) and give honest feedback to the medical center!

Open notes is now live, which means that notes and results for your patients are viewable by the patient in My Health Online in real time. Please be aware of how you are documenting!

The rest of the country is experiencing a significant surge in coronavirus cases but we are currently holding steady in ABSMC and the bay area. We are expecting a fall surge to be imminent. Please continue to practice appropriate social distancing, wear masks, and avoid large social gatherings, especially as the holidays approach.

Stay safe and be well!

Jeff Chen MD, MPH, FACEP
Chief of Staff, ABSMC Summit Campus

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