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Sansum Clinic’s Newest Legacy Society Members: Dr. and Mrs. Alex Koper & Dr. Bret Davis

Nov 18, 2020, 23:19 PM by Sansum Clinic

Judi and Alex KoperUrologist Alex Koper, MD and Dermatologist Bret Davis, MD, FACP have decades of perspective at Sansum Clinic. Dr. Koper will celebrate his 40th anniversary in 2021. Dr. Davis has invested 21 years with the Clinic. Both began before the Santa Barbara Medical Foundation Clinic joined with Sansum Clinic, when each was a small group practice with less staffing, technology and resources. Over the years, Drs. Koper and Davis have appreciated the incredible benefits of this merger including the recent addition of Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, and its medical and radiation oncology groups. The doctors are quick to point out that this evolution has resulted in many positive and transformative advancements in overall patient care, including in their respective fields.

The Urology Department has five physicians, with specialties in robotic and endoscopic surgery, female urology, and state-of-the art treatments for all types of urological conditions. The Dermatology Department staffs six physicians, now including two female dermatologists, all of whom work closely with other highly-trained physicians including dermatopathologists, surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, dramatically improving diagnosis and treatment  of skin cancers, including life-threatening melanoma. “We are able to detect the majority of melanomas early and eliminate them,” explains Dr Davis. “With advanced melanoma, previously a 100% fatal diagnosis, we can interact with a broad team of physicians who provide expertise and techniques, many of which were not available before. These are potentially life-saving advancements.”

As Dr. Koper and Dr. Davis reflect on the development of Sansum Clinic into a first-class healthcare organization, they are deeply inspired by the many people who consider it their personal mission to serve others. “I feel very honored to be here. It has been wonderful to be a part of this dynamic and well-respected healthcare system,” remarks Dr. Koper. “Sansum Clinic is a Santa Barbara treasure and is like family to me. It’s important to take an active role in the care of our Clinic to ensure its longevity.”

Bret DavisOne way for supporters to ensure the Clinic’s longevity is for them to make a provision in their estate plans and join the Sansum Clinic Legacy Society which is what the Kopers and Dr. Davis have chosen to do. The Legacy Society represents a group of loyal friends who share a belief in the importance of providing high-quality, innovative healthcare to meet the specialized needs of our community now and into the future. As Dr. Koper and his wife, Judi discussed what their legacy should be, Sansum Clinic rose to the top of their list. The couple considered making their gift anonymously, but felt it was important to share their decision to support Sansum Clinic even after they are gone. “The importance of giving is a deeply rooted value for us,” Dr. Koper elaborates. “We all have a responsibility to do what we can to make the world, and our community, a better place.” Dr. Koper gives freely of his time to improve healthcare locally. For over 35 years he has provided care to some of our community’s most vulnerable at the Santa Barbara County Health Care Center. He served on the Board of Directors for Sansum Clinic, Cottage Health and the Central Coast Medical Association. Giving financially is part of the equation as well, he notes, which lends a certain credibility when speaking with patients and other doctors about supporting the Clinic through philanthropy. Sansum Clinic is a nonprofit organization and relies on support from the community to launch new programs and services, some of which are offered free to the community and aren’t covered through medical reimbursement.

The Thomas Fire in late 2017 and the mudslides in early 2018 played a big role in motivating Dr. Davis to become more actively involved in philanthropy. Right after these two major events physicians and staff asked how they could help. The organization came together and established the Employee Assistance Fund that generated voluntary gifts of PTO (paid time off) and cash which enabled the Clinic to replenish and employees to recover. Funds raised were matched by the Clinic. This strengthened his belief in the power of philanthropy.

Dr. Davis’ experience on Sansum Clinic’s Board of Trustees has given him a front row seat to many major gifts of support that made possible the acquisition of advanced technologies like 3D mammography, whole breast ultrasound and state-of-the-art CT imaging, and major capital projects like the Elings Eye Center, the Foothill Medical and Surgical Center and the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center. “These things exist because of generous support from our donor community,” comments Dr. Davis. “It got me thinking about giving something substantial. I am now in a position where I can do something like that, whereas earlier in my career I really couldn’t.”

Especially important to Dr. Davis’ decision to join the Legacy Society is his friendship with and admiration for Dr. Koper. He appreciates Dr. Koper’s strong and exemplary leadership and the  feeling of collegiality they share. When Dr. Davis was new to Sansum Clinic, Dr. Koper was one of the first physicians with whom he interacted regularly and in-person. Together, they now co-chair the annual physicians’ campaign. Dr. Koper has been co-chair of this campaign since 2009. He previously worked with Sansum Clinic Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Erno S. Daniel. When Dr. Daniel passed away unexpectedly in 2015, Dr. Davis graciously accepted the offer to work with Dr. Koper on the physician campaign. “It can be difficult to ask our colleagues to donate to their workplace when they already give so much of themselves. Our compassion and our dedication to high-quality care is tremendous. I want to help keep this going,” confirms Dr. Davis. The physicians are exceptionally proud not only of their fellow doctors and other clinicians, but all those on the front lines and behind the scenes. “Our staff go out of their way to make patients feel comfortable and cared for,” adds Dr. Koper. “We definitely want to support that, and to plan so the Clinic is here to take care of all of our children and our grandchildren, for the long run.”

If you have made a provision in your estate plan for Sansum Clinic, please let us know so we may thank you and include you in the Legacy Society. If you wish to leave a gift or would like information about the Legacy Society, please contact Dru A. Hartley, Director of Philanthropy, at (805) 681-7726 or

Photo Captions:

  1. Judi and Alex Koper
  2. Dr. Bret Davis