Monday, January 12, 2009

The man, the legend

Here's a bit about Dr. Ralph Feigin. (scroll down in the link, but also read about Dr. DeBakey.) He was President of my medical school and Chair of Pediatrics and Physician in Chief at Texas Childrens Hospital. I was blessed to be taught by him.

I lifted this one from Meena Julapalli on Facebook; hope she doesn't mind:

Several years ago, Dr. Feigin was flown to Washington, D.C. to meet with President George W. Bush at the White House. In the Oval Office, the President told him that he wanted him to be the next Surgeon General, an offer Dr. Feigin politely declined saying that he loved the job he had at TCH and Baylor and couldn't imagine himself doing anything else. Bush remarked "You can't say 'no' to the President," to which Dr. Feigin responded, "I said no to one [meaning George Bush, Sr.], I can certainly say 'no' to another."

Near the end of the meeting, Dr. Feigin excused himself to go to the restroom (yes, the Oval Office restroom) and when he returned, George Bush asked him if he had washed his hands.
Dr. Feigin said, "of course, I washed my hands -- I'm an infectious disease doctor."
POTUS: "Well, what did you think of the hand towels?"
Dr. Feigin: "Uh, they're nice, I guess."
POTUS: "You should take one as a souvenir."
Dr. Feigin: "No, thank you, that's alright."
POTUS: "No, really, I insist."
Dr. Feigin: "Uh, okay."

Dr. Feigin left hurriedly to catch his plane and stuffed the hand towel in the side pocket of his carry-on luggage. As he stood in the security line, he started to become slightly nervous that the security officers would search his bags and find a hand towel with the official Presidential seal on it. How was he going to explain that he didn't steal a hand towel from the President of the United States?

This story is from my friend Sujit Iyer, and typifies Dr. Feigin:

For those who remember hurricane Rita... it happened about 3 weeks after katrina, and in the midst of it all Houston had a city wide evacuation. TCH was in disaster preparedness mode and there was a meeting of heads of the hospital every 8 hours for the 48 hours before landfall....

So I'm at these meetings as chief to represent the residents, and there are people there from Nursing, Faculty, Maintenance, Food Services, etc.. in this huge conference room. As everyone is walking through their part of the disaster plan the maintenance guys get into an argument about where the main power breaker for the flood doors in the tunnel beneath the Feigin Center is (something I never knew even existed until that weekend).... they couldn't figure it out... then out of nowhere....

Dr. Feigin:, "Just walk down the hall on the way to the main flood doors, 20 yards before the door on the right there is a large box, either the third or fourth breaker down on the left will close the doors if the power goes out."

Engineers, ruffling through some papers.. "Mmmm, yeah, you're right Dr. Feigin."

Some people don't need blueprints.

May he rest in peace.


No comments: