Local resident Dr. Richard Goldberg received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine at a ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The ceremony, held Sunday, July 1, recognized Goldberg’s more than 40 years serving L.A. County USC Hospital. He was one of its first emergency medicine residents. Then, as a clinical professor of emergency medicine, he taught future residents, and developed programs in this relatively new medical specialty.
Goldberg’s teaching appointment was without salary. He served as a volunteer. “It’s the way my values are set. I was happy to do it,” he said. “It was part of being a physician and using my training to assist others.”
Goldberg, modest in mien, does not like to talk about himself; rather, he serves. Whether it’s as Mountain Disaster Preparedness’ Medical Officer, originator of the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council’s long popular Speaker Series, as ICRC board member, as a relief team member following a 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, setting up a 1,000 bed shelter outside of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or supervising emergency care in a hospital 30 miles from heavily damaged Port-au-Prince after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, he volunteers and serves and tries very hard to do it under the radar.
Goldberg, a Chicago native, completed medical school at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and was one of the first three residents in the USC Emergency Medical program.
“There was a realization that trauma injury was a major killer and that treatment should be specialized and appropriate,” said Goldberg. “Prior to that, emergency treatment could be administered by any available doctor at a particular hospital. People needed more sophisticated trauma treatment.” In 1968, the American College of Emergency Physicians was formed to develop this new field. It now has 28,000 members and was Goldberg at the forefront of its development, as teacher, research coordinator and practicing physician.
His wife Jan assisted with his research and actually co-authored papers with him in this growing specialty. “He was really invested in this facility [County USC],” said Jan. “He loved it. He was always available.”
Goldberg, again assisted by his wife Jan, founded “The Red Blanket Society,” and with an initial grant, helped fund books, teaching materials and conferences for County USC residents. “The residents make little income,” said Goldberg. “This was a way to assist them.” The society, named after the practice of putting red blankets on critical cases that came into hospitals, continues to this day funded by alumnae contributions.
Of his career and the recent honor conferred on him, Goldberg said, “I’m fortunate. This hospital was my professional birthplace and it has one of the finest emergency medicine departments in the country.”