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Caring for Children with Dr. Alex Koper, Urologist

Jan 11, 2018, 12:12 PM by Nicole Young
Dr. Koper with new patient Jack and his motherHanding over your newborn baby for a surgical procedure requires a huge amount of trust from any parent. Dr. Alex Koper blends his medical experience with his parenting skills to put families at ease when they select him to treat their children. The urologist clocks 36 years at Sansum Clinic, coordinating with pediatricians and obstetricians to care for the littlest of patients who need simple procedures like circumcisions, or who require more specialized care for conditions like hernias or infections. New parents Tanya Morovati and her husband, Dominic Wagner, chose Dr. Koper to perform a circumcision on their son, Jack, after his birth in June. Tanya admits she was very anxious, but Dr. Koper immediately calmed her nerves and answered all of her questions. She liked that her new baby would be in the hands of a trained surgeon. “He is so caring. I felt really comfortable,” she recalls. Tanya is an anesthesiologist at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. As a doctor herself, she greatly appreciated Dr. Koper using an injectable pain solution for Jack’s procedure, a less common choice but one she thought demonstrated Dr. Koper’s experience in his field. She first met Dr. Koper in the operating room after she began working in Santa Barbara three years ago. His great respect for the staff at every level impressed her. “He is one of the kindest physicians, just a pleasure to be around. I felt a connection with him right away,” Tanya explains.

Dr. Koper describes his manner of caring communication as a reflection of who he is as a person, rather than something gleaned from his medical training at UCLA and Stanford. “I try to understand what it’s like from a parent’s point of view because there is nothing more stressful than when your child is sick,” he says. “I have three children and some of them have had health problems. I know what that’s like. Nowadays in the practice of medicine, there’s a great deal of high-tech equipment, but the human interaction is really what’s most important to me. That’s what I love the most about being a doctor.”

Those human qualities are why Dr. Koper chose urology from the start. He rotated through various specialties in medical school, but felt the urologists who he trained with were highly skilled surgeons and excellent communicators. “It was just contagious to be with them,” he remarks. “When you first get out of medical school, you are pretty book smart, you take your boards and you know the answers to many questions. But there’s still a lot to learn about working with people. There’s definitely a learning curve that takes time.” Dr. Koper always makes time at the beginning of exams to talk with patients, to turn away from his computer and really connect with them, so they feel their time with him has been a good experience. The physician’s listing on the Castle Connelly “Top Doctors” list is an indicator of his outstanding work in his specialty. The survey allows doctors to nominate their peers and was created to help consumers find the best medical care.

While the majority of Dr. Koper’s patients are adults, he loves the pediatric part of his practice, filling his pockets with stickers to entertain them during appointments. He explains that becoming a grandfather especially impacted his way with youngsters. “Now that I am a grandparent myself, it feels especially sweet to spend time these little patients,” he reflects. One of his favorite activities is spending time with his family, in particular his six month old granddaughter, Eloise, and his three year-old namesake grandson, Alex IV, who live here in town. “When I see my grandchildren, it just warms my heart,” he gushes. “They are just so precious.”

Service to his community is also a large part of Dr. Koper’s focus. He’s completed lengthy terms on the board of the Sansum doctors corporation, as well as the board of directors for Cottage Hospital and the Central Coast Medical Association. In these roles, he was gratified to learn how like himself, the administrators deeply care about making Santa Barbara’s health system the best it can be. It’s this spirit that moves Dr. Koper and his partner, Dr. Scott Tobis, to schedule one day a month at the county health clinic. When he first began this endeavor, there were no urologists seeing patients there. Now, Dr. Koper looks forward to connecting with others in the community who truly need his expertise. “I believe part of being a doctor is taking care of everybody and taking care of the under-served population. I really love being a doctor, and I enjoy working to help people through their ups and downs. That is my passion.”