By Mary O’KEEFE
Remember the good old days when doctors had time to listen to their patients, were on call 24/7 and made house calls? Well, in Crescenta Valley those good old days were just about two months ago.
That was when Crescenta Valley physician Dr. Eiming Djang retired. He had practiced medicine for over 50 years and was a doctor who got to really know his patients and never hesitated grabbing his medical bag, getting in his car and driving to his patient’s house to help.
“I am a dinosaur,” he said of how he views the relationship between patient and physician.
He didn’t start his practice in the CV area but once here made it his home.
“My practice was in East L.A. and I was called to do some consultations in the Glendale area,” he said.
He decided to move to the CV area in 1974 and built his practice at Verdugo Hills Hospital (now USC-VHH).
“VHH was right at the beginning [of opening its doors]. It was a little hospital,” Djang said. “And yes I made house calls.”
He added that many of his patients were elderly and it was difficult for them to come to his office, even parking was difficult for some.
“It was easier for me to see them at home. I didn’t mind at all, that is what my family doctor did when I was a kid,” he said. “It was fun and you get to see the place where your patient lives. I had fun doing it. The people of this valley are very friendly. This is a small community but a helpful community.”
At 82 years old and after 53 years in practice, he decided it was time to retire.
“I have been taking calls every night and sharing my weekend calls with (other doctors). I was on call every night when I was in town and it gets tiring,” he said.
He said he did like the quiet of Crescenta Valley in the middle of the night.
“You go out driving at 2 a.m. on Foothill [Boulevard] and no one is there,” he said.
Over his five decades in practice he has seen a lot of changes. When he started with VHH it was the new hospital. He became a board member and worked hard to help the hospital succeed. He admits however that it is difficult to attract new doctors.
It is very difficult if not impossible for a doctor these days to start a solo practice, Djang said, unless you see a large volume of patients. Financially doctors now have to share offices with several other physicians.
He has tried to get another doctor to take over his practice but has not had much luck.
Despite the changes – both good and not so good – he loves his chosen career and has some advice for those presently in medical school; “[Remember] you can’t replace the human side of medicine.”
“I think the [best] idea is to concentrate on serving the patient. That is the most important thing,” he said.
As for retirement, he is still trying to get used to the concept of free time.
“Right now I am just getting used to the routine [of retirement]. Once you do something every day it’s [difficult to get a new routine]. I find I am very lazy,” Djang joked. “What I want to do is read books and I plan to visit our grandson in Oregon.”