That’s no typo. I meant Stammina.
Dr Stanley Stamm is retiring this month after a 57 year clinical practice at Seattle Children’s. F-i-f-t-y-s-e-v-e-n year career. His wonderful nurse, Marlene, is retiring, as well. They have been caring for children together for decades. Yesterday I had the privilege to attend one of their retirement parties. Lovely, inspiring, humbling. I was silenced by it all; I was among giants. Working in medicine has granted me a unique window to witness exceptionally compassionate people who devote their lives to care for children. Dr Stamm and Marlene exceed the margins as they shine brightly through the window panes.
Dr Stamm has done incredible things for children:
- Creating and sustaining cardiac outreach for the hospital. Genius. Cardiologists now drive or fly all over WA, AK, & MT to care for children closer to their homes.
- Single-handedly starting a week long sleepover camp for children with chronic, serious illness. Stamm Camp has been ongoing for 44 years.
- Assisting in founding and creating the ICU at Seattle Children’s.
- Efficiently providing care to children for more than a 1/2 a century (In 2009, he saw more patients than any other cardiologist at Children’s). He was in his 80’s at the time.
- Teaching medical students, residents, fellows, peers, patients, and families for 57 years.
Yet the list does no justice. It’s the grace with which he committed to his career in the context of his life that astounds. He is the ultimate person, teacher, and doctor. Dr Stamm exemplifies professionalism and humanism in medicine.
Dr Lewin, Chief of cardiology, toasted Dr Stamm (enter tears) at the party referencing what residents and training docs remember most: Dr Stamm’s model of work-life-balance. Dr Stamm just does it right; elegantly and seemingly effortlessly, he bikes to work, sees patients all day, swims with the residents every day (no exaggeration) at noontime, bikes home from work, all while carving out time for his loving family. When his daughter spoke at the party she described how she and her mother used to get stopped in grocery stores. Strangers would say, “Oh Dr Stamm is just so wonderful!” Dr Stamm’s wife had the fortune to respond (I’m paraphrasing), “As great as you think he is, he is just so much more.” Dr Stamm exceeds what most of us will ever be able to do in a lifetime. All the while in loving balance.
So he is a beacon of hope that there are equations to the work/life/balance that equalize, sustain, enrich, and nurture.
I was about to pat myself on the back for my #100 post. I’ll wait until I’ve been at this for another 50 years.
I am blessed with the fortune of knowing and learning from Dr Stamm and Marlene as a resident and primary care doctor. Thank you for caring for my patients, for me, and for my son in your clinic. And congratulations, Dr Stamm and Marlene. We will miss your incredible wisdom and care, but will enjoy forever your teaching and contributions. May we all have the Stammina to give to others even a fraction of what you have given to us all.
Do you know Dr Stamm? Has he cared for your children or taught you something? Have you worked with him? Share:
Lisa Fields says
While I”m in my “spicy years,” my term for middle age, I continue to both want and need Role Models. Sometimes when it seems like the greedy, mean, and “less than splendid” are making their way to the front of the line I’m given stories and folks in my community who simply and gently remind me what’s important.
As a Quaker, I’m given the reminders of the impact people’s lives really make. Listening to the stories, both funny and sad told by those who really know is important. While not all of us will be able to achieve all this Dynamic Dual accomplished, each of us can remember and model our on behavior upon the character and passion of these true loving professionals.
Thank you for sharing such a loving and touching tribute.
I met Dr. Stamm and Marlene as a pediatric intern, on an elective known as “Stamm Cardiology.” It was one of the most memorable months of residency, filled not only with heartfelt care of patients and their families, but also with daily exercise (swimming laps! I think that he only lapped me about twenty times!) and airplane adventures (taking a small-engine plane to Port Angeles, sitting in the passenger seat on a crystal clear day with views of Mt. Rainier at eye-level).
Seven years later, almost to the day, as I return from maternity leave for the birth of my second daughter to fellowship on the “work hard/work hard” plan of the east coast, I hold the wonderful life lessons of that month close, and will never stop striving for the ideal work-life balance that Dr. Stamm gracefully upheld.
I’m sure that I learned something about cardiology when I did my “Stamm rotation.” And, like Evelyn, I certainly have fond memories of swimming and flying in the little plane to Yakima. However, the thing I remember on a daily basis is that Dr. Stamm and Marlene helped me buy a car!
I was on my rotation with them when the constant repairs on my old car got to be too much. One day I mentioned that I was going to test drive cars after work. They both became actively involved in helping me make car decisions. Marlene offered to go test driving with me. I didn’t take her up on that offer but I did follow her advice to use CostCo’s car purchasing service rather than negotiating. One of the first people to ride in my new car was Dr. Stamm….when we drove to the swimming pool!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks for the lovely comments, all.
Jessica Albright says
I had the honor of meeting Doc Stamm 23 years ago, when he became my cardiologist, when i moved to Washington with my family. He is the reason i am alive today. Everyday i thank god for giving me the chance to have such a wonderful doctor. He has the biggest heart i have ever know. The day i had my last visit with him i cried my eyes out. I was nervous to move on the a different cardiologist after seeing Doc Stamm for 23 years, i thought i couldn’t trust any other doctor. But Stamm reassured me that i would be okay.
Doc Stamm also introduced me to Stamm camp. the most wonderful place on earth (apart from Disneyland!). since i am older now and cant be a camper anymore i go back every year to volunteer as a counselor. For 6 years as camper i looked forward to going every august. it was the one thing i could be excited about. and even now being a volunteer I excited. Seeing the smiles on all the children’s faces when they arrive at camp is a very magical moment. at Stamm camp you can be you, and you don’t have to pretend you’re different. its an amazing place.
A special thanks to Doc Stamm and of course his wonderful nurse Marelene. Thanks for caring for me for all those years and helping me survive. You Doctor Stamm are my hero.
Russel Jensen says
I was a patient of Dr. Stamm over 40 years ago. I went through 3 reconstructive surgeries to repair to the wall in the bottom of my heart. My parents were told not to expect me home and had to be revived on the operating table many times. This all began before I was old enough to walk. I do not remember much of my number of stays at Seattle Childrens, but I would love to know more. My life today is due to Seattle Childrens and Dr Stanley Stamm.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
That’s very nice of you to write about your experience (and your health) due to Dr Stamm’s amazing work.
If your family isn’t around to help you recall the hospital stays you had, the only thing I can think to advise you to do is get a copy of some of your medical records. ALthough it wouldn’t read like a narrative, it may help paint the picture you’re looking for.