The Bay Area Geriatrics Community recently lost one of our greatest friends, innovators, and pioneers with the passing of Dr. Larry Feigenbaum. Decades before almost anyone else, Larry saw how how our health system was failing to meet the needs of older patients coping with frailty and disability. So much of what is happening in San Francisco to improve the care of older persons can be traced to Larry’s vision.
In 1978, Larry established the first fellowship in Geriatric Medicine in the western United States at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, a premier community hospital and teaching affiliate of UCSF. He was so far ahead of his time. It would be another 20 years before UCSF even had a Division of Geriatric Division. I wonder if our current fellows realize that the opportunity they have to learn Geriatric Medicine has its roots in Larry’s vision.
Larry also saw the need to integrate social services with medical care. He played a crucial role in the establishment of the San Francisco Institute on Aging, a nationally recognized pioneer in the provision of health and social services to vulnerable elders. His advocacy improved access to services like adult day healthcare for needy elders across California. Larry was the founding executive director of the IOA, and remained its active champion throughout his life.
Beyond his pioneering achievements in Geriatric Medicine, Larry was known for his kindness, generosity, and humility. He will be missed by many. The opportunities we have in San Francisco to work in Geriatrics have their roots in Larry’s vision.
by: Ken Covinsky