Sunday, June 15, 2003

Fathers and sons, together to the bone

In one orthopedics office, three pairs of doctors practice side by side

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

At Frieberg Orthopedic in Kenwood. From left (see zoom view): Francis and Raul Florez, James B. and Craig B. Willis, and Dick and Scott Jolson.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
When fathers and sons find common ground in their careers, that's special. When their careers allow them to work in the same office, that's unusual. When that office contains not one but three father-son pairings, that's amazing.

Freiberg Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, with offices in Mount Airy and Kenwood, is a family business, home to several similar pairings since it opened in 1890.

Currently, Drs. Richard and Scott Jolson, James and Craig Willis and Raul and Francis Florez all call Freiberg home.

Having family work under the same roof might seem too close for comfort for some, but these doctors relish the opportunity.

"We ask each other questions or go over cases," says Scott Jolson, 42, of Wyoming. "It's always nice having somebody there you trust, especially somebody who has the same type of interests as you."

Both specialize in knee and shoulder surgery.

Although Richard Jolson, 75, of East Walnut Hills, retired his scalpel in 1996, he still has patients and consults regularly. He also sees patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Avondale. His former surgery sidekick is considering joining him there, too.

More dad/kid pairs: We asked you to send us your father-child look-alike photos. See what you sent us in our Father's Day photo gallery.
"They've asked me to come down there," says Scott. "One of the fun things would be 'cause Dad's there, so I get to do more stuff with him."

Says Richard, "There's never been a competition between us. It's a thrill for me to send a patient of mine for treatment to Scott."

As a teenager, Francis Florez, 44, of Glendale, felt at ease in the operating room when his father took him on a tour.

"I said, 'This is fun,' " he remembers. "I could do this."

Choosing his father's specialty sealed their future together.

"I now had the bridge over to my father that none of my siblings had, because now I could talk to him forever about orthopedics, about medicine."

His father, Raul Florez, 79, of Clifton, has seen the field of orthopedic medicine expand as fast as his son has grown over the years.

"His knowledge is more advanced because we have progressed quite a bit," he says. "The steps taken in orthopedics from 1950 until now are really considerable."

That progress allows the general orthopedic physicians to share cases and work more closely together.

"Although he stopped operating in 1995, the best part was operating together," says Francis. "Actually being in the OR, with him showing me this and me showing him that. Now, it's good to have him around when I'm seeing patients. It's like me having the benefit of his wisdom."

When Craig Willis, 33, of Montgomery, announced he was considering following his father into medicine, the reaction was surprising.

"I told him to go into law," James Willis, 62, of Amberley Village says with a chuckle. "I did try to dissuade him. You want to really be sure you want to (go into medicine), because it's just a long road."

Craig eagerly dived into the challenge of being the apprentice doctor. His "next wave" education, combined with Dad's time-tested methods, created a spate of innovations in hand and wrist surgery.

"We both enjoy doing the same things," says Craig, "and to see him doing it makes me more excited, more interested and intent on furthering my drive to learn how to do what he does."

"I'm proud of the way he interacts with people," James says of his son, the doctor. "Other doctors tell me how good he is with his patients and how well he interacts with his peers. Some doctors never learn how to do that."


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