Penn Valley clinic welcomes doc with historic survival story
Much of Dr. George Broder’s early life was a fight to survive. Now, as a new cardiologist in Penn Valley, he’s helping Nevada County residents with heart disease do the same.
Broder works across the street from Lake Wildwood, in the Fremont-Rideout Specialty Care Clinic that opened this spring. Broder came from Southern California to become the first full-time doctor at the clinic, which is a branch of the Marysville-based Fremont-Rideout health group and will soon welcome a urologist and gynecologist.
In his spare time, he plays the violin with an ensemble of other doctors, and writes stories and poetry.
French-born, Broder and his family were among the lucky ones that escaped Paris before the Nazis invaded in June 1940. Broder was just a toddler when the ship left port for Argentina, its lights off to avoid detection by the German U-boats poised like mines in the coastal waters.
Broder’s father, a watchmaker, had a friend running for office in Argentina; the politician had flippantly offered him citizenship in exchange for a vote. It paid off – Broder’s refugee family survived in South America while almost all the relatives left behind in Paris were killed during the occupation.
But Buenos Aires in the 1940s wasn’t much better. After leading a coup d’etat in 1943, demagogue Juan Domingo Peron took the presidency in 1946 and removed his political opponents from their positions.
Broder’s family fled to Los Angeles, and an 8-year-old Broder found himself in the classroom, bewildered.
“I knew no English, and nobody spoke Spanish,” he said.
The first semester, he got a “C” in English. After devoting himself to radio programs, he learned the language and earned an “A” the next semester, never to earn less than that again.
Broder’s academic pursuits didn’t stop with English. He went on to graduate from UCLA, then USC School of Medicine. He served as a Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service and taught cardiology at the Harbor/UCLA Medical Center.
Most recently in Palm Desert, south of Palm Springs, he was weighing the possibility of retiring, something he’d tried unsuccessfully a few years earlier before getting incurably bored.
That’s when a search firm contacted him about an opening in a new specialty care clinic – an opportunity that got more interesting the more he looked into it.
The Penn Valley clinic is located conveniently for Wildwood retirees, who are about 20 minutes from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, 40 minutes from Marysville’s Rideout Memorial Hospital and more than an hour from specialists in Sacramento.
“The health center saw a need,” said Fremont-Rideout spokeswoman Linda Plummer.
There’s also a shortage of doctors in the profession, partly because a generation of aging baby boomers is developing heart conditions, and partly because it takes about 14 years of college and post-college training to practice.
Technology has evolved dramatically since Broder began. In the 1970s, a heart attack was a game-ender. With advancements in pharmaceuticals, the development of angioplasty and devices such as the Pacemaker, people with heart conditions have a second chance.
“With all the modern technology, you can do more,” he said.
Broder and his wife Janet, a retired cardiac nurse and his marathoning partner in his younger years, just purchased a home in Nevada County last week.
The new job – and the challenges and promises in the field of cardiology – will keep him out of retirement indefinitely.
“Heart disease kills more people each year than anything else,” Broder said. “There’s a huge need.”
To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail email@example.com or call (530) 477-4247.
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