Dr. George Messerlian and his wife Sally are devoted to each other, their family, medicine and Sansum Clinic. George has been an Internist with Sansum Clinic for the past 38 years and Sally is a Clinical Nurse Coordinator for Outpatient Surgery at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. He grew up in El Monte and she grew up with a twin sister in San Marino. After George and Sally were married and came to Santa Barbara, they had two daughters and a son of whom they're very proud. Eldest daughter Beth is married and has an equine veterinarian practice in Northern California. She and her husband are the parents of their only grandchild, 16-month-old Paisley, who "has everyone wrapped around her little finger," says Sally. Their other daughter, Sarah, lives in Sacramento and works for a state government insurance company in Risk Management. Nick, their youngest, is an architectural designer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he lives with his fiancee, Barbara.
When we met in their lovely home, Sally was recuperating from knee surgery that was performed by one of Sansum Clinic's outstanding orthopedic surgeons, Dr. James Zmolek. Despite being in some pain and having to use a cane, Sally was all smiles. George says she's always like that - cheerful, friendly and optimistic. "We're very much alike in that way," said Sally. "We both tend to look on the bright side of life."
After doing his residency at Los Angeles County Hospital, George decided to join Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara. At the County Hospital, "We had to do practically everything ourselves," he said. "There weren't any hospitalists in those days and we weren't allowed to make house calls, so everyone came to the hospital for care. We did it all. If one of my patients needed a blood draw, I did it. If they needed an electrocardiogram, I did that, too. I wanted to see each patient as a unique person. It was a crisis-based operation and there was rarely any time for preventative work; it was almost all interventive in nature.
I was delighted when I came to Sansum Clinic, because it was very 'high tech.' The Clinic's medical treatments were very advanced at the time - and that continues to be the case today. I think it's wonderful that we have so many specialists on staff. My job is to assess a patient's overall needs. I look at the big picture by providing annual exams, giving vaccinations and focusing on prevention, as well as intervention and making referrals to specialists as needed. I treat the whole patient and I especially like the hand-holding aspect of my work. I've been able to get to know my patients and many have become my friends over the years.
"He loves people," said Sally. "And so do I. It's been wonderful for us, since we're both in the medical field. We understand each other and the triumphs and tragedies we both encounter in our work. We're united in feeling that it's important to build relationships and get to know our patients." "I agree," said George. "I think one of the reasons Sansum Clinic is so highly regarded is that we're the go-to place for our community. We're not procedure-driven; we're patient-driven."
"It's very important to Sally and me to support Sansum Clinic in every way we can," said George. "And that's why we've included the Clinic in our estate plans. We're both grateful to have had such rewarding careers in medicine. It's important to go home every night with a clear conscience, knowing we did our best to make a difference in someone's life. We all have an obligation to do everything we can to ensure that Sansum Clinic thrives well into the future. Now that I'm approaching retirement, I want everyone to know what a privilege it's been to get up every morning knowing that I'm going to work with people who truly care about the patients we serve and feel as we do that Sansum Clinic is a very special place indeed."