100 Year Old Jewish Doctor Still Treating Patients
At a century old, Dr. Goldman is still working and his patients love it
Dr. Fred Goldman still makes house calls.
He must, he explains. That’s where the patients are.
“If they’re sick and can’t leave home,” he said, “I go to see them.”
On Monday, they came to see him. Patients, friends and family — some using walkers, some in strollers — gathered in numbers passing the century mark at the Avondale office Goldman calls “the dump,” to throw a surprise birthday party for the internist who is the oldest licensed physician practicing medicine in the state of Ohio.
Dr. Fred Goldman is 100.
He surprised them, though: The guest of honor arrived 90 minutes early.
“I almost had a heart attack seeing all of the people in the hall and the waiting room,” Goldman said between greeting well-wishers with questions about their health.
How’s your ankle? You still smoking?
“People ask me, ‘Why do you go to a doctor who’s 100?’” said Patti Levine, a fourth-generation patient of the doctor. “I tell them, ‘Because he’s seen it all, and he knows everything.’ ”
The Blue Ash woman stood by a stroller holding her 10-month-old daughter, Madyson. “She’s not his patient,” Levine said, “yet.”
Fellow physicians also gave birthday greetings to Goldman.
“He asked me to come work for him in 2007,” said 85-year-old Dr. Leo Wayne. That’s the year Wayne retired and Goldman, at 96, cut back from five, eight-hour days a week to three.
“I told him I would not work for him,” Wayne added. “I’m too young.”
Would he prescribe retirement for his older friend and colleague?
“I would not dream of advising him to retire,” Wayne replied. “Dr. Goldman is an excellent diagnostician. He knows his patients, including himself. He knows this patient is still up to the task.”
As the birthday doctor worked the waiting room and the hallway, his guests peppered him with questions.
How does it feel to be 100?
He examined both of his hands. He squeezed one. Then, the other.
“Don’t feel anything different,” he said with a sly smile.
“Most people my age,” he added, “can’t feel anything. They’re dead.”
The crowd laughed. So did the 100-year-old birthday boy.
When Fred Goldman was literally a birthday boy, it was Dec. 12, 1911. He was born at his family’s home on Ninth Street in the West End.
“My mother, a housewife, was from Poland. My father, a shopkeeper, was from Russia,” he said, “and I was from both of them.”
On the day the good doctor was born, another native Cincinnatian, William Howard Taft, waddled about the White House as the 27th president of the United States. Czar Nicholas II sat on the throne in Russia. George V, Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather, reigned as the King of England. Sigmund Freud was seeing patients in Vienna.
“Hell, when I became a doctor in 1935,” Goldman said, “Freud was still seeing patients.”
In baseball, the doctor’s favorite sport as a kid, Ty Cobb won the 1911 American League batting title by hitting a robust .420. Goldman’s hometown Cincinnati Reds finished sixth that year. The 1911 Redlegs lost 83 games, the same number of losses suffered by the Reds 100 years later in 2011.
Goldman shares a birth year with the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, comedian Lucille Ball, fellow Cincinnatian Roy “King of the Cowboys” Rogers, Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenburg, Bluegrass founder Bill Monroe, bluesman Robert Johnson, playwright Tennessee Williams, politician Hubert H. Humphrey, and actresses Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers.
He has one thing going for him they don’t: He’s still alive.
“Want to see the rest of the dump?” he asked before leading visitors on a tour of his office. He sees 12 patients a day in his computer-free suite. His schedule is set by hand by his sole employee, office manger Patti Heath.
“I came to work here when he was 91,” she said.
She thought she would be a short-timer. “Here I am nine years later. And he’s still going strong.
“The first year I worked for him, I collapsed on a beach for my vacation,” she said. “He hiked the wilderness in Alaska and lived in a tent. They don’t make men like Fred Goldman anymore.”
This article was first published on Your Jewish News.