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Long-time M.D. honored by community

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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During his nearly six decades practicing medicine, he made his share of house calls and was available around the clock. And often he’d dispense a little humor along with the prescriptions and advice. “I just enjoyed everything,” Dr. Theodore Bacharach said about his years in the medical profession. “It was just a lot of fun. It was just hard to not enjoy it. You can help someone and it was worthwhile.” Bacharach, 85, is this year’s winner of the Healthcare Award. He’ll be honored at the State of the Community Dinner April 17 in Auburn. A pulmonary specialist, Bacharach moved to the foothills in 1964 to work at the Weimar Hospital after 20 years as a U.S. Army physician. “It was a TB hospital at the time, run by 15 counties,” Bacharach said of the Weimar facility. “When it ceased to exist, I went into private practice.” He covered internal medicine for Auburn, Grass Valley, Roseville and Folsom, as well as consulting in Downieville, Yuba City and Marysville. His association with Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital dates from when it opened in 1966. He later served on the hospital’s board of directors for 11 years. He not only practiced medicine, he also taught it as a member of the Pulmonary Department faculty at the University of California, Davis. In 1997, the university gave him the Heroes in Healthcare Award. In 2001, he received a Laureate Award from the Northern California Society of Internal Medicine. Medicine has changed a lot over the years, he said. “We saw patients any time,” he said. “We were available. If someone called in the morning, we’d see them that day or that night.” In the 1990s Bacharach took up writing, preserving memories from his career in a book. Called “Hey, Doc,” it was a humorous look at his life in the military. His next project was a history book for the 100th anniversary of the Placer and Nevada County Medical Society. “This area is very interesting from a medical standpoint,” Bacharach said. “It was a medical center for quite a while and actually was far ahead of Sacramento and some of the other places. The big attraction was the fact they had the TB treatment pretty much localized in Colfax and professors from the University of San Francisco would come up here to learn about (the disease).” In fact, Colfax had an expert in the field, Dr Robert Peers. And one of the first fluoroscopic instruments was located there, Bacharach related. Always an avid photographer, Bacharach has focused on the hobby even more in recent years, traveling to a number of countries including Vietnam, China, India, Germany and Switzerland. He was particularly impressed by his experience in Vietnam. “It is probably the most inviting country,” he said. “Wherever you went, people were very friendly and greeted you with open arms. Everyone was independent and each had their own business — even a little girl in Saigon who was selling postcards. When one of the (visitors) tried to give her a dollar, she said, ‘What do you think I am, a beggar? I want to sell these.’” A trip to Nicaragua on a medical mission also made an impression. “It was really the ultimate in poverty,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog as skinny as I did in Nicaragua and still walking.” These days he also enjoys rejuvenating photographs. “I scan them with PhotoShop,” he said. “I spend a lot of time doing that.” Bacharach’s long history in the local medical community made him a strong choice for the Healthcare Award, according to Mitch Hanna, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital CEO. “It is individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of healthcare,” Hanna said. “Dr. Bacharach has been a reputable member of the medical community here for many years. He is loved by many former patients and still participates in many hospital-related functions because he is so ingrained in the medical community. If you were to discuss Dr. Bacharach with longstanding members of the community, there are a lot of people whose lives he has positively impacted through his pulmonary practice.” Mindy Danovaro, executive director of Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation, experienced that warmth for Bacharach last week during an outing with the doctor. “When I took him to lunch to tell him he’d won the award and I toured (the hospital) with him, I’ve never toured with a physician who has gotten so many hugs,” Danovaro said. “Without exception, every staff member stopped and hugged him. That speaks to his character. Everyone wanted to greet him and say hello and give him their regards. It really reiterates how deserving he is of this award.” The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com.