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Leo J. Tauber, MD, FACP
Internal Medicine Physician (Retired)
Buenaventura Medical Clinic, Ventura, CA
Milwaukee County Hospital, Milwaukee, WI
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Leo J. Tauber, MD, FACP, who recently celebrated his 99th
birthday, can still recall the moment he knew he wanted to become a
doctor. He was three years old when a doctor came to his home in
New York City to treat him for an illness and at that time, he knew
he wanted to become a physician to "make people well." It was a
doctor's visit that led to a long and fulfilling life in
Dr. Tauber was born into a poor family in New York City to
immigrant parents from Eastern Europe. His father insisted on
working hard so that his eldest son and his two other children,
could be educated. As a young student, Dr. Tauber was particularly
interested in science and mathematics and carried on the work ethic
that he inherited from his father.
While attending the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. Tauber
decided to specialize in internal medicine. Dr. Francis Murphy, the
then-chief-of-staff at Milwaukee County Hospital, greatly
influenced Dr. Tauber because of his "dramatic" presentation of
medicine. Dr. Murphy's passion for medicine captured the interests
of his patients during rounds, and made an impact on Dr. Tauber.
Not only did Dr. Murphy demonstrate his passion for medicine and
preparedness to teach new physicians, he was a mentor for Dr.
Tauber and played a role later in Dr. Tauber's career.
Before settling down in California, Dr. Tauber served the
medical profession around the world.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Dr. Tauber volunteered for
the U.S. Army Medical Corp, and served as Battalion Surgeon with
the 11th Armored Division at Camp Polk, LA, and with the amphibian
tractor battalion at Fort Ord, CA. He was part of the invasion
forces that landed on Leyte Island in the Philippines in 1944, and
later invaded Okinawa, Japan in 1945.
After returning home from the war in 1945, Dr. Tauber completed
his internal medicine residency and served as chief resident at
Milwaukee County Hospital. As chief resident, he enjoyed his new
role, as he was able to establish new, innovative policies and
procedures. Dr. Tauber was offered an opportunity by Dr. Murphy,
his chief-of-staff during medical school, to serve as his assistant
at his private practice at St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee. Dr.
Tauber greeted patients, performed intake, asked necessary
questions, and made notes for Dr. Murphy. Through this opportunity,
Dr. Tauber learned valuable lessons about the practice of internal
medicine, and revised and edited Dr. Murphy's book on internal
medicine, which was later published.
In 1947, Dr. Tauber moved to Ventura, CA to work with one of his
former classmates from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He and
three fellow classmates from medical school established the
Buenaventura Medical Clinic, the first private, multi-practice
medical clinic in Ventura County in 1950.
Initially, the clinic provided services for internal medicine,
surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology, but the doctors soon
learned that their patients needed additional services that fell
under other specialties. At this time in Ventura, CA, there were
two hospitals that provided care to patients. One hospital,
Community Memorial Hospital, was a private hospital, while the
County Hospital was a public hospital and did not have any paid
personnel. Dr. Tauber and his colleagues provided medical
assistance at the County Hospital, while simultaneously building
their private practices at the Buenaventura Medical Clinic.
Eventually, Dr. Tauber served as chief of staff for Ventura
County Medical Center and Community Memorial Hospital. He helped
found the Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation, and also
served in many roles, including president, director, chairman, and
as a board member.
Over time, Buenaventura Medical Clinic grew from the four
founding members to more than 50 physicians who provided services
in many medical specialties, including pediatrics, dermatology, and
gastroenterology. Through word-of-mouth about the "excellent,
caring and devoted" care that the physicians provided to patients,
the clinic expanded into neighboring cities. The clinic grew
organically in the community, and eventually the clinic became the
Buenaventura Medical Group which was recognized as one of the
premier and most prominent medical facilities of the time. In 2006,
Kaiser Permanente bought the Buenaventura Medical Group.
Dr. Tauber served his patients with great care and a sense of
humor. Dr. Tauber recalls that his patients enjoyed seeing him
because in addition to being an excellent physician, he always had
jokes to tell them. He tried to tailor the jokes to his patients
and their circumstances. While he realizes that today's physicians
likely receive calls via text message, he says that either way the
calls come in, it is just something that physicians do. While being
"on call" was rewarding for Dr. Tauber, it also was the most
challenging aspect of the job for him. As a dedicated physician who
worked long and irregular hours, coupled with his devotion as a
father of six children, Dr. Tauber often struggled to find the
right balance of work life and personal life. He gives his wife of
66 years, Lucy, credit for many of his achievements over the years,
and is grateful for her support.
In 1992, after 51 years of practicing internal medicine, Dr.
Tauber retired. The profound loss of his 39 year-old son Jeffrey to
melanoma left him devastated that he was unable to save his son
from the dreadful disease. The doctors had tried every medical
procedure available at that time, including clinical trials, but
they were not successful.
Dr. Tauber became a member of ACP in 1950 and was named a Fellow
(FACP) in 1960. Throughout his membership, Dr. Tauber has served in
various roles, including serving as a member of the Governors'
Advisory Committee. He received the ACP Laureate Award in 1998 from
the California Southern I chapter, which he calls the highlight of
his career. "A professional man being recognized by his peers,
that's the best honor you can ever have." Dr. Tauber said. The ACP
Laureate Award is given to one member of each chapter annually, and
is based on excellence in medical care, education or research, and
service to the community and ACP.
Dr. Tauber's advice for medical students today is to "love what
you do, and do what you love...anything else is fruitless."
In his retirement, Dr. Tauber enjoys reading about medical
advancements in the newspaper and checking his emails. He enjoys
attending the Internal Residency program, a world-renowned
opportunity offered at the Ventura County Medical Center for
physicians to learn about advances in medicine, including the most
current treatment options. Dr. Tauber has always loved reading, but
also enjoys playing solitaire, singing old songs with friends, and
telling jokes. At 99 years young, he is clearly continuing with his
love of knowledge and medicine.
Maria Tauber, Dr. Leo J. Tauber's daughter, compiled the
details and anecdotes that her father shared about his life and
August 2015 Issue of IMpact
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