He’s 83 and officially retired 10 years ago, but Dr. David Hosbein still keeps an office and can be found assisting in surgery several times a week at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. He plans to keep doing that until “I can’t do it any more or they don’t want me.”
Sandy Joyce, RN, director of perioperative services, doesn’t see that day coming soon.
“We call him the midnight surgeon because he always comes in when we need him, no matter the time,” she said. “To me, he embodies the ‘gentleman surgeon.’ He is a gentle man, he’s kind and an excellent surgeon.”
Currently Hosbein is a primary surgery assistant. He usually begins assisting once the patient has been given anesthesia. She added, “Most patients don’t even know now that he’s there. They don’t realize they’re getting the benefit of all his years of experience.”
Dr. Hosbein is one of about 120 physicians on the hospital staff, along with perhaps 40 more practicing in the community, who are being honored Saturday as part of the Doctors Day observance nationwide.
“We encourage everyone in the community to send notes or call and thank their physicians for the support they give us,” said Debbie Wagner, RN, director of physician recruitment and community outreach for the hospital. “Personally, I feel lucky to live in this community with all the excellent physicians we have here,” Wagner added.
Dr. Hosbein, a general surgeon who has mainly specialized in abdominal work, received his medical education at Northwestern Medical School, trained at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and at the former Cooperstown hospital in upstate New York, now part of the Bassett Healthcare Network.
“It was very cold there,” he remembered. “My wife had some family in California so we came out here to look and thought this would be a fine place to raise a family.”
That was in 1963, when he was the only surgeon in the community.
Their family ultimately included five children (and now nine grandchildren), including his daughter, Lisa, also a doctor, who practices holistic/natural medicine in Nevada City, and daughter Anna, who became a registered nurse, who now lives in Bolivia and no longer works in medicine.
During his training, Dr. Hosbein said he discovered he was adept with the dissection of cadavers, so much so that his classmates often deferred to him. That led him to an appreciation of “the technical aspects” of surgery and “the immediate satisfaction when things turn out all right.”
Despite the development of laparoscopic surgery, he nurtures his love of classic surgery techniques.
“There is still a place for straightforward surgery with formal incision,” he said.
Along with observing and assisting with surgeries, Dr. Hosbein remains a member of the SNMH Surgical Monitoring Committee.
Looking back on his career, he said, “I’ve been very impressed with our medical staff. They are a responsible and capable group of people who have the best interests of their patients at heart. It’s been pleasurable and rewarding to work with them all over the years.”
As for the community, “It has fulfilled all my expectations,” he said.
Dr. Hosbein’s practice was taken over by Dr. Thomas Boyle.
All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.