September 3, 2008

Mills-Peninsula Doctor Named an Emergency Medicine “Hero”

By Kyveli Diener

For even the bravest patients, a visit to the emergency room is a worrisome experience, especially when weighing the trustworthiness of your doctor.

But patients who visit Mills and Peninsula hospitals in San Mateo and Burlingame can breathe a sigh of relief in the hands of a proclaimed "hero."

Dr. Michael Bresler, director of emergency medicine for Mills- Peninsula Health Services, was named a "Hero of Emergency Medicine" by the American College of Emergency Physicians last week. Bresler is one of several physicians across the country to receive the honor, which is part of the college's 40th anniversary celebration.

Bresler said he is honored to receive the title, which he calls the "most uniquely named honor" he's ever received. He laughed and said, "I don't know if I'm a hero, but I'll accept it."

Years ago, the Washington, D.C., native took a cross-country road trip to California in a "packed" Volkswagen to attend Stanford University medical school.

"I took one look at the Bay Area and never left," Bresler said.

Bresler has been with Mills-Peninsula for 34 years, and has also been a clinical professor in the division of emergency medicine at Stanford since 1978. In addition to teaching and treating patients, the doctor has also been active legislatively, including multiple accomplishments that ensure indigent patients receive the best treatment available. But out of all these fields of work, Bresler said that patient care is his top priority.

"Of all things I do, clinical care comes first," he said, adding that teaching is also highly rewarding. "It's tremendously satisfying to see kids who didn't know anything about medicine who are now renowned physicians."

Bresler said emergency medicine is a good fit for him because it offers a variety of exciting cases, and he can see the results of his care quickly.

"In emergency medicine, people come in dying and most of the time we can reverse that process within an hour or two. It's a very emotionally rewarding specialty," he said. "Even a little kid with a laceration that's frightened, if you can make it reassuring or less painful for the child, that can have a lifelong effect. Even in minor cases like that you can do a lot of good."

Bresler also likes that his time as an emergency physician is scheduled, giving him the free time that allowed him to attend the little league games of his sons, Adam, 17, and Ben, 19, when they were young. He is also able to pursue his musical passion as a kettle drum player in the Peninsula Symphony and San Francisco's Bohemian Club Band.

Dr. Linda Lawrence, the president of college of American College of Emergency Physicians, said that Bresler, who in 1994 received the college's highest honor, the John Wiegenstein Leadership Award, has "been one of our superstars."

"Mike has just an amazing ability to look at issues from the patient perspective and advocate how we can change our health care system," she said. "He's such an effective spokesperson and strategic thinker that he's been able to be very influential in his advocacy efforts. He's somebody that's been a role model for us and a trailblazer."

Bresler and the other physicians who received the title will be recognized at the college's annual meeting in October.

Originally published by Kyveli Diener, San Mateo County Times.

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