DOWNEY - Friends, co-workers, former patients and colleagues gathered in Downey recently to celebrate the 90th birthday of longtime Downey physician Rei H. Ozaki, MD, who retired just a few years ago from his practice with CareMore.The surprise celebration was a bit overwhelming for the doctor, a Downey pioneer who came to the city almost 60 years ago as a young physician eager to help his patients. Back in the 1950s, from his office on 3rd Street, Ozaki delivered babies, tended to the old and infirmed, and dedicated his professional life to caring for hundreds of Downey families. Ozaki attended Loma Linda University, where he completed his medical education and received formal training as a family doctor who delivered almost all of the care to his patients. Each morning, he would arrive at Downey Community Hospital to perform surgery and then spent up to 10 hours each day in his office seeing patients. He returned to the hospital in the evening to care for and visit patients. "It was a time in healthcare when family doctors like myself did everything in medicine for our patients, from delivering their babies to caring for their grandparents and doing surgery," Ozaki recalled. "If I fit the bill for an old-fashioned doctor, then so be it - that's what I was and continued to be for decades." Today, even at 90, Ozaki still works, getting up each day to help Dr. Arthur Edelstein, a Downey eye physician. "I don't have a practice any more but I still keep my fingers in the medical arena by helping my fellow colleagues," Ozaki said. His work and his love for his rose garden seem to keep a twinkle in his eye. "I'd still be seeing my patients if I could," Ozaki added. "I miss them terribly." It is not uncommon for Ozaki to be greeted by his former patients, or their children or grandchildren, all of whom he treated as a family physician. "He is an amazing doctor, the kind of doctor whose spirit for caring for patients was contagious to all of us," said Sheldon Zinberg, MD, a longtime Downey physician who founded CareMore and worked alongside Ozaki. "He never took a vacation or days off. He committed his life to making sure his patients were well and healthy." Today, as he battles the aches and pains that come with living to be 90, Ozaki still can be found on the computer in Edelstein's office, researching new advances in medicine. "Medical science still amazes me, and it keeps my mind engages," he said. Sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
********** Published: February 12, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 43