That’s no typo. I meant Stammina.

Dr Stanley Stamm is retiring this month after a 57 year clinical practice at Seattle Children’s. F-i-f-t-y-s-e-v-e-n year career. His wonderful nurse, Marlene, is retiring, as well. They have been caring for children together for decades. Yesterday I had the privilege to attend one of their retirement parties. Lovely, inspiring, humbling. I was silenced by it all; I was among giants. Working in medicine has granted me a unique window to witness exceptionally compassionate people who devote their lives to care for children. Dr Stamm and Marlene exceed the margins as they shine brightly through the window panes.

Dr Stamm has done incredible things for children:

  • Creating and sustaining cardiac outreach for the hospital. Genius. Cardiologists now drive or fly all over WA, AK, & MT to care for children closer to their homes.
  • Single-handedly starting a week long sleepover camp for children with chronic, serious illness. Stamm Camp has been ongoing for 44 years.
  • Assisting in founding and creating the ICU at Seattle Children’s.
  • Efficiently providing care to children for more than a 1/2 a century (In 2009, he saw more patients than any other cardiologist at Children’s). He was in his 80’s at the time.
  • Teaching medical students, residents, fellows, peers, patients, and families for 57 years.

Yet the list does no justice. It’s the grace with which he committed to his career in the context of his life that astounds. He is the ultimate person, teacher, and doctor. Dr Stamm exemplifies professionalism and humanism in medicine.

Dr Lewin, Chief of cardiology, toasted Dr Stamm (enter tears) at the party referencing what residents and training docs remember most: Dr Stamm’s model of work-life-balance. Dr Stamm just does it right; elegantly and seemingly effortlessly, he bikes to work, sees patients all day, swims with the residents every day (no exaggeration) at noontime, bikes home from work, all while carving out time for his loving family. When his daughter spoke at the party she described how she and her mother used to get stopped in grocery stores. Strangers would say, “Oh Dr Stamm is just so wonderful!” Dr Stamm’s wife had the fortune to respond (I’m paraphrasing), “As great as you think he is, he is just so much more.” Dr Stamm exceeds what most of us will ever be able to do in a lifetime. All the while in loving balance.

So he is a beacon of hope that there are equations to the work/life/balance that equalize, sustain, enrich, and nurture.

I was about to pat myself on the back for my #100 post. I’ll wait until I’ve been at this for another 50 years.

I am blessed with the fortune of knowing and learning from Dr Stamm and Marlene as a resident and primary care doctor. Thank you for caring for my patients, for me, and for my son in your clinic. And congratulations, Dr Stamm and Marlene. We will miss your incredible wisdom and care, but will enjoy forever your teaching and contributions. May we all have the Stammina to give to others even a fraction of what you have given to us all.

Do you know Dr Stamm? Has he cared for your children or taught you something? Have you worked with him? Share: