Dr. Bernie Gosevitz
Credits: Toronto Sun
TORONTO - Sometimes, nice guys finish first.
Dr. J. Bernard Gosevitz, affectionately known to his patients as Dr. G., is one of them.
Two yiddish words best describe him.
The first is, he’s a macher — a big shot. More about that in a moment.
But, more important, Dr. G. is a mensch, meaning a gentleman.
And, most important, Dr. G. is more of a mensch than a macher.
Because if you’re lucky enough to be one of his patients, as people from all walks of life are, you know that when Dr. G. treats you, no matter your station in life, he does so with skill, wisdom, kindness, humour and respect.
If Dr. G. is your family doctor, whenever you need a specialist, you get referred to the best in the city, most of whom he knows.
That may be in part because he’s had 27 surgeries — although he never complains — the result, he jokes, of a misspent youth as a good academic student, but a “bad athlete”, playing hockey, football, curling and baseball.
Dr. G. works long days and is up on all the latest medical technologies, but his most important diagnostic tool is a paper and pen.
Every time he sees you, before he starts his examination, he sits you down and asks how you’re feeling, how’s the family, how are things at work?
The amazing thing is, he writes a lot of it down. Sometimes, I worry the medical file he has on me alone is going to give him a hernia someday.
Now, to the “macher” part.
If I listed all of Dr. G’s accomplishments, charitable activities and medical qualifications, I’d need all eight pages of today’s Comment section.
So here’s a smattering of what he does.
Dr. G. is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Rogers Communication Inc., Corporate Medical Director of CTV/Globemedia, International Medical Director of Barrick Gold Corporation, Corporate Medical Advisor to KPMG, Medical Advisor to Burnac Corp., Hull Insurance, Aastra Technologies, Sun Media and Post Media.
He’s also the chairman of the Canadian Wildlife Federation Foundation (his favourite hobby is fishing).
His patients — some of whom will be roasting and toasting him on Wednesday, May 15, at a swanky fundraiser at The Carlu, celebrating his 40 years in medicine (proceeds to The Campaign to Cure Arthritis at Toronto Western Hospital) — read like a Who’s Who of Canada.
The master of ceremonies is Eddie Greenspan, the first roaster, Brian Mulroney.
Oh yeah ... and Dr. G. was once called in to help treat Henry Kissinger, which he mentions only in passing.
Indeed, Dr. G. has travelled all over the world and has literally practised medicine everywhere from mountains high above sea level, to the world’s deepest mines.
But that’s not the most impressive thing about him.
The most impressive thing, is how he treats everyone the same.
His oldest fishing buddies are everyday folks he’s known for decades, and when they go fishing, Dr. G. has only one rule — no talking about medicine.
Dr. G. credits a number of doctors with mentoring him, but you don’t have to talk to him for long to realize where his sense of public service comes from.
It comes from his late parents, Fanny and Julius, Polish immigrants who settled in Ottawa, worked hard, raised their kids right, and whose love for one another endured for a lifetime.
It’s when Dr. G. talks about them that his voice grows quieter, his manner more reflective.
“They brought my sister (Leah) and I up to like people, to respect people,” Dr. G. says. “It’s not in my DNA to think otherwise.”
Today, Dr. G. often travels the world in corporate jets and sleeps on corporate yachts.
But he’s never forgotten how his family lived in a small, Ottawa tenement, sleeping together in one room, with only a pot-bellied stove for heat.
It’s a long way from there to The Carlu, where Dr. G. will be honoured while the most important people in his life, his wife, Susan, (a nurse, of course) and daughters Sarah, Rebecca, Shauna and Rachel look on.
And when they announce the creation of the The J. Bernard Gosevitz Chair in Arthritis Research, you just know that somewhere, Fanny and Julius will be smiling.
Tables to The Carlu dinner are sold out, but tickets for the entertainment part of the evening, $150, can be purchased online at www.drgosevitztribute.ca, or by contacting Kirsten Liddell at 416-340-4800 ext. 6323.