Thursday, April 18, 2013

AIDS Hero, Dr. Fred Strauss, Retires From SF DPH

When I saw my longtime physician Fred Strauss, pictured, on Monday at the Castro Mission Health Center, it was the last visit we would have together because he is retiring from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

My order to him was direct: "You can't retire because I'm too old to have to train another doctor in how to care for me!"

He laughed and said the time was right for him to begin the next phase of his life. I began seeing him way back in the spring of 1995 and I want to praise him for a few key points.

Fred never pushed me to get on an AIDS cocktail until I had good medical reasons to do so, welcomed me bringing written questions to and taking notes during consultations, saw the value in alternative healing methods including acupuncture and Reiki, and was a true partner in my health care delivery.

Two episodes during our long partnership over nearly fourteen-years need retelling.

I once had appointment with him on Halloween and it was a year when all staffers at the health clinic decided to work in costume that day. I waited to be called to see him and when he entered the reception area in a clown get-up, rainbow wig on his head and red bulb on his nose, I cackled for a good five minutes. (Oh, the lengths he went to delivering the best medicine - laughter!)

On a more serious note, when I was terribly sick with one infection or two and unable to speak with him on the phone during regular clinic hours, he called to check up on me from his home after work and on the weekends.

Caring like that for all of his patients, not just his problem patients (me!?), is why Fred Strauss is one heck of an AIDS hero and will be sorely missed as he enters retirement.

Many big thanks, Fred, for keeping me well and alive and thriving!

Here is his gracious good-bye letter that was snail-mailed to all of his patients earlier this month.

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