Frank Michota, MD (1967-2015)

Dr_Franklin_Michota When I got word from a friend Frank had passed away, I sat speechless and numb.  I met him early on in SHMs history, and right from the get-go, I knew he had a rare  combination of intellect, confidence, and folksiness.  I liked him the minute we shook hands.

I always needled him about his speaking voice too.  Mellifluous and brimming, he could light up a room.  I continually told him he missed his calling as a broadcast journalist.  Of  course, his rejoinder was always non-verbal.  He just looked at me and sarcastically smiled, as if to say, “that routine again.”  Yup Frank, again.

I, along with countless others, will miss not seeing him.  What a tragic loss for his family, community, and our own SHM extended tribe.

As a tribute, I asked some of his colleagues to pass on their reminiscences.  They will give you a sense of Frank’s breadth and depth as an individual.   Additionally, if you wish, please leave comments at the bottom of the post as a further tribute to him.

–Brad

 

In Memoriam:  Franklin A. Michota, Jr

Chris Whinney, MD, Chair, Hospital Medicine, Cleveland Clinic:

I vividly remember the mini-cassette answering machine message I received in early 2001, when I was in the throes of my first (painful) week-on, week-on job as a hospitalist in the early years…

“Hi, I’m calling for Chris Whinney, this is Frank Michota from the Cleveland Clinic…”

I promptly wrote down his name as he referenced my interest in a position at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic in hospital medicine:

“M-A-S-H-O-D-A”…

I began to think:  “Japanese?”  When we finally spoke I immediately pictured a second generation man of Asian descent, impressed that he had no trace of an accent whatsoever;

When I finally met him I realized the error of my bias…but this was the start of an amazing relationship…one that ended way too soon this past Saturday night.

Frank Michota Jr., the founder of hospital medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, the man who hired me in 2001, the man who was an early thought leader, mentor and colleague to hundreds of physicians, students, residents, and more, lost his life to metastatic colon cancer at the age of 47.

There is a void in our collective hearts today…

Frank was an Ohio guy…he did his undergrad and med school at Ohio State, and came to Cleveland Clinic for his residency in 1993.  After his chief year in 1997, he was asked by the GIM chair, Rich Lang, to take on the hospital scheduling and to start working as a hospitalist…just about a year after the Wachter/Goldman article.

He served as section head for 10 years, and was integral to the growth of the program from three hospitalists at first (including Shaun Frost) to over 100 hospitalists and nocturnists as of July of 2015.

I could wax poetic on all of Frank’s academic accomplishments (innumerable publications, presentations, co-chair of board review course, the Perioperative Summit, textbook editorships, etc), but Frank was way more than a long CV…his magnetism, eloquence and passion for hospital medicine was evident for everyone he met.

Some examples of this (and I appreciate the following writers to allow me to share):

 

Shaun Frost, MD, SFHM, former president, SHM:

“Frank is one of few people who have had a significant impact on my career – a textbook example of a true mentor.

Frank gave me professional opportunities that I would not have had access to without his influence.  He introduced me to important people in the field of hospital medicine that additionally assisted with my career development.  Perhaps most important, Frank encouraged me to take risks because he believed in my abilities, and saw potential in my future.

Frank made me want to be better, and he set an excellent example to emulate as he was the absolute best in the many areas in which he excelled.  He was always giving of his time, and always willing to offer meaningful guidance and support.

Any positive influence on the specialty of hospital medicine that I may hope to lay claim to is in part due to the guiding influence that Frank Michota had on my early career development.

Beyond being a terrific colleague, Frank was a great person, a true friend, and a really fun guy to just hang out with – I have fond memories of travelling with him to early hospital medicine and perioperative medicine conferences, and also remember great times when our families would get together for weekend barbeques and other recreation.”

 

 Brian Harte, MD, SFHM, President-Elect, SHM:

“I would say that as far back as 2002, Frank recognized the potential for Cleveland Clinic hospitalist physicians to champion change…[f]rom the standpoint of my career, he quickly recognized where my strengths were when I came here out of community practice, and connected me to leaders and resources to set goals and achieve them.  Frank appreciated the challenges of coming to the Cleveland Clinic and offered a guiding hand, checking on me often in those first few months.  At the same time, he was not above asking for my suggestions or counsel on how to make the section better.  When we established the first regional program, he recognized the potential of what we could accomplish, and it was his guidance and support of our vision that really opened the door for us to be a multi-hospital department. Above all, he was a dedicated father and a good person, and I recall so well being driven around Cleveland on a snowy night in January just talking about family and career balance that was always so important to him.”

 

Amir Jaffer, MD, MBA, SFHM, Division Chief, Rush University Medical Center:

“Frank was a true visionary, long before hospitalists became mainstream within Perioperative Care. He envisioned hospitalists evaluating and managing medical aspects of surgical patients in the hospital, and was always seeking to advance the field in innovative ways…I can still remember the wise words he would repeat to me, saying ‘Amir, figure out a way to do things even better, study the outcomes from our clinic and write about them’…Frank was a charismatic individual, and indubitably a transformative figure through my hospitalist career…Frank, your absence will be felt not by your family and friends but also by the entire medical community. I know your legacy and what you have done for the field of hospital medicine will live on!”

 

Jim Pile, MD, SFHM, Vice Chair, Faculty Development, Cleveland Clinic:

“Frank’s impact on the department, and on all who knew him for any length of time, was indelible… there were few individuals in the early days of hospital medicine with his depth and breadth of vision for what the new specialty could, and should, become…people such as Bob Wachter, John Nelson and Win Whitcomb are recognized as the pioneers of the specialty, but Frank also deserves to be remembered as one of the small group of those who truly shaped the discipline early on.  I will remember him as one of the most incisive and logical thinkers I’ve ever known, and learned a great deal from his impressive communication skills, his mastery of time management, and his leadership strategies.  The legendary journalist Hunter Thompson eulogized his friend Carl Lazlo by saying “He was one of a kind.  He stomped on the terra,” and although his life was not long when measured in years, that statement applies equally to Frank.  He will be missed, but his memory will live on.”

 

Daniel Brotman, MD, SFHM, Division chief, Johns Hopkins:

“Coming out of residency, I knew I wanted to be a hospitalist, but this was based simplistically on my desire to take care of inpatients and teach. When I visited CCF to interview for my first post-residency position, Frank hosted me for the day, and I felt an immediate connection with Frank’s vision for the program and the field of hospital medicine. This was corroborated by Natalie Correia’s statement during my interview with her: “Frank is a gifted administrator”. During my five years at CCF, Frank taught me a ton about hospital medicine, how to be an administrator, how to give a good presentation, the importance of networking with other hosptialists, and how to keep cool when I got hot-headed. He was always in my corner and always gave sound advice.  I owe much of my career’s trajectory to the amazing start he gave me. “

As for me, I am indebted to Frank for his belief in me, when he asked me to join in 2001; when he provided feedback on my first poster at the (then) NAIP meeting in Philadelphia in 2002;  my first external speaking opportunity at my first SHM Midwest meeting in Chicago in 2003, and when he asked me in 2005 to assume the role of hospital medicine fellowship director.  He gave me a chance to excel, as he did with Shaun, Jim, Amir, Brian, and Daniel, and they all moved on to leadership in our growing field (well, at least Jim returned to us after a few years).    He was passionate about teaching, and in fact in his last few months gave spontaneous case presentations at grand rounds when a speaker was a no-show.   The effort he engaged with fellow staff, residents and students was remarkable; in fact the last week of his life he was giving a colleague of ours feedback on her upcoming local SHM chapter presentation.

Most of all, he was a man who loved life…it was evident in all he did…my vivid memories of playing paintball with his boys and him in the fields of Ohio was a blast…

Frank planted the seed in 1997 that became a giant Oak tree today in Northeast Ohio…now when the winds blow and the seasons change, the Oak may lose some of its leaves, but its trunk will stay strong thanks to the visionary who watered the tender sapling and cared for it well…in his last days, as many can imagine, he only had glimpses of this man, but we all appreciated his suffering, and share in our relief that his suffering has now ended….

Sleep well my friend…we will miss you…see you someday soon…

Frank’s father, Dr. Franklin Michota, Sr. has established a medical scholarship in his name for students at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Donations should be addressed to:

Dr. Franklin Michota, Jr., Scholarship Fund
c/o First Federal of Lakewood
36839 Detroit Road
Avon, Ohio 44011

Thank you in advance for remembering Frank in this way.

cc

 

Top Left (with mustache): Jim Pile

Second row from top, third in: Shaun Frost

Second row from top, third in: Amir Jaffer

Third row from bottom on left: Chris Whinney

Third row from bottom, 6th from left:  Daniel Brotman

Bottom Row, third from right:  Frank Michota

 

 

Brad Flansbaum

Bradley Flansbaum, DO, MPH, MHM works for Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA in both the divisions of hospital medicine and population health. He began working as a hospitalist in 1996, at the inception of the hospital medicine movement. He is a founding member of the Society of Hospital Medicine and served as a board member and officer. He speaks nationally in promoting hospital medicine and has presented at many statewide meetings and conferences. He is also actively involved in house staff education.

Currently, he serves on the SHM Public Policy Committee and has an interest in payment policy, healthcare market competition, health disparities, cost-effectiveness analysis, and pain and palliative care. He is SHM’s delegate for the AMA House of Delegates.

Dr. Flansbaum received his undergraduate degree from Union College in Schenectady, NY and attended medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. He received his M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.

He is a political junky, and loves to cook, stay fit, read non-fiction, listen to many genres of music, and is a resident of Danville, PA.

8 Comments

  1. Chris Whinney on June 10, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Thanks Brad for allowing me the privilge of sharing this
    the photo above is our Department of General Internal Medicine (when we were a Section of Hospital Medicine) in 2002. It is a testament to Frank’s vision and passion for the field that he recruited such an all star team

  2. Geno Merlu on June 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

    I toured Capital Hill with Frank when we were stumping for the DVT Coalition. He was ment for politics. He left every senator’s staffer with a message and an understanding of our mission.
    Then there was Frank on Larry King Live. Larry asked him “what is a Hospitalist” ? Frank introduced Hospital Medicine on National TV.
    I will miss him very much! I am praying for his family as I did throughout his ordeal.
    Geno

  3. Efren Manjarrez on June 11, 2015 at 11:33 am

    I will never forget the first time I met Frank Michota….
    It was about 2002 or 2003. He came to Miami to give us a talk on anticoagulation. During the presentation, this guy has the nerve to tell us AT OUR HOSPITAL how Ohio State just beat the U in the NCAA football Championship and rub it in our face!!
    Fast forward over the years to multiple outstanding talks at SHM and his Perioperative Medicine Summit, I had the opportunity to get to know him a little bit.
    I was most impressed with what he created at Cleveland Clinic- all of those star hospitalists in our field that came from the seed Frank planted…. . This is really relevant because he was the mentor to my own mentor, Amir Jaffer. The infrastructure that they laid down for Hospital Medicine together at CCF was what Amir brought with him to Miami to take our Division to the next level when Amir arrived as our Division Chief in 2007.
    The last time I saw Frank was a wonderful dinner we had at HM 14 in Las Vegas with his wife, and a few others of us. I hoped we could repeat it at National Harbor for HM 15 since we asked him to speak, but sadly, it was not to be….
    As I have said in other communications, we lost a giant and a friend much too early. Hospitalists are too young to die…My prayers and blessings go out to his wife, kids, extended family, and my friends at CCF, who are all hurting this week….

  4. Patience Reich on June 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    What a terrible loss! This is so sad. Gone much too soon!

  5. ONeil Pyke on June 11, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Frank will be missed. I was fortunate enough to have worked with Frank and he even guided my Hospitalist career in the early years. What an awesome intellect, but an even better individual.
    Travel well my friend.

  6. Julius Miller on June 11, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    He was a wonderful teacher at many of the SHM meetings and i will never forget his article when writing about his surgery and wanting to go to the regular surgical floor south he would improve quicker. What a down to earth intelligent man.. He will be missed so much

  7. Roop Kaw on June 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Frank will be missed as a visionary; a motivating force in academia; a thoughtful friend and a terrific colleague. One of the founding forces in Hospital and Perioperative Medicine; Frank was a larger than life figure who lived fully and to his best. He was always one of the first to sense the bigger picture; amongst the first to spot the strengths of his colleagues and juniors and did not believe much in telling or being told what to do. Whenever faced with a challenge; he took it with a smile; his last months were even more exemplary. . As hospitalists; physicians and colleagues we will miss him and his influence for a long long time.

  8. jana goldsich on June 17, 2015 at 12:35 am

    As director of the preoperative assessment clinic at University of Kansas Hospital, I have been a faithful attendee to the Perioperative Medicine Summit since 2010. I’m an anesthesiologist, and I never had the opportunity to meet Frank personally, but his presentations were always a highlight for me. I was devastated to hear that he could not attend the most recent meeting in February due to illness. He was charismatic and brilliant– he impacted my practice and influenced my way of thinking. God bless you Frank, you made such a difference to so many patients and so many physicians . I will forever cherish the DVD recorded at the 2010 Summit.

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