RIVERBANK -- In 1958, when Dr. George Schauf began practicing medicine in Riverbank, he did it all. The family doctor in a solo practice delivered babies, treated everyone who came to his office, performed appendectomies and anything else his patients needed. One day, he recalled, he gave tonsillectomies to four brothers. He even assisted with giving anaesthesia on occasion.
After 53 years, Schauf hung up his stethoscope in December, not because he is 87 years old, but because of changes in medicine. Doctors are being funneled into groups and specialties; insurance companies are changing the face of medical care.
"This is the passing of an era, the end of private solo practice," said Dr. David Olson, an Oakdale internist who specializes in infectious diseases. He said Schauf referred patients to him over the years. "The problem with medicine as it's progressing is that the (family) doctor is having less personal knowledge and responsibility for their patients."
For example, he said, hospital doctors and others take over the care of patients at times. "Whereas whenDr. Schauf started, they were his patients. He was fiercely loyal to them and was very concerned when someone else took over," Olson said. "That's becoming more and more rare, to have one person in charge of total care, of someone standing up to fight to be involved in all aspects of care."
"The advent of the hospitalist more or less relegated the family physician to the office," he said. "It's been a drastic change. Following the patient in the hospital has a lot to do with his progress."
Insurance companies, too, have had a huge impact, he said. "I could refer my patients to anyone," not just those working with a particular insurance group. "I had complete satisfaction that I was caring for these patients."
And large insurance groups meant a change in those he served. "HMOs scooped up all these patients," he said.
So, he decided, it was time to retire.
Schauf was born in Los Angeles and lived there until he entered the Army Air Forces at age 18 during World War II. He became an instructor at an Air Forces radio operator school in South Dakota and moved to San Jose, where he studied electrical engineering.
But while he was working at Agnes State Mental Hospital to support his wife and children, he became interested in psychology and medicine. He eventually graduated from medical school and came to Modesto to take a job at Modesto State Hospital, then on the site of today's Modesto Junior College West Campus. A short time later, he learned of a private practice available in Riverbank. Dr. John Barnhill had died the year before, so Schauf purchased the practice and the building, which included an X-ray machine, unusual at that time to be found in a private practice.
In 1958, Riverbank had only a few thousand residents, most of them low-income. "I never knew how much money any of my patients had," Schauf said.
"A doctor has your life in his hands. He has to be dedicated to serving and keeping you well. Today, people look at (medicine) as a profitable profession. I never looked at it that way."
After five decades, his practice grew deep roots. His recent patients included children and grandchildren of his original patients. At Schauf's retirement party, three women went up to him and said, "You delivered me." Now they're married, with children of their own.
Speaking of children, Schauf was a prolific father. He has nine children from his first marriage and two from his second. His youngest, a daughter, is 23 years old. His oldest child, also a daughter, is 63.
The doctor's impact on Riverbank is probably larger than anyone knows. Take, for example, Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueño. She credits Schauf with saving her life.
A recent college grad, the then-22-year-old was working as an intern at American Savings Bank in Stockton. One day, a client had sent a basket of almonds to the office, Madueño said. She was left behind to answer phones while the other secretaries went to lunch, so she started munching on the nuts.
"I was raised on almonds," she said. "I never had an allergic reaction."
But that day, she began feeling poorly and having trouble swallowing. She decided to drive home.
"By the time I got to Manteca, I was literally shredding my skin (itching it so hard)," she said. "I couldn't see; my eyes were swelling shut. It was so severe and hit so fast, and I didn't know what it was. But I kept driving. I should have pulled over, but I just wanted to get home. I didn't even park the car; I left it in the middle of the street. My mother screamed when she saw me, that's how monstrous I looked.
"My parents rushed me to Dr. Schauf's office. He was our family doctor and he was just down the street. He took me into the room and quickly gave me a shot of some kind of antihistamine, and the side effects started to reverse. He said if I had been a few minutes later, he would have had to do a tracheotomy. So I credit Dr. Schauf with saving my life. And let me tell you, I don't eat almonds anymore."
Schauf said he's prevented a couple of similar close calls, but his biggest passion in medicine began after about 15 years in practice. He was invited to attend a conference on obesity and returned with a box of pharmaceuticals recommended to treat the problem.
"I didn't entirely agree with them," he said. But it prompted him to buy "the latest textbook on endocrinology." His studies eventually led him to publish two books: "Think, Eat and Lose Fat," (1970), and "Think Thin," (1976). He also presented his "QQF Theory (Quality, Quantity and Frequency)" report to the American Medical Association and various other groups.
In 2010, he self-published "The Calorie Conspiracy," a compilation of his two earlier books. It's available from Amazon.com and other book sites.
"I've been ignored entirely," he said of the medical industry's response to his work. "They didn't condemn me; they didn't say a word to me."
But his case histories of his patients bear out his anti-obesity diet. In short, he limits refined sugar, simple carbohydrates and caffeine to breakfast. Bacon and eggs are OK, he said. You can even eat a doughnut or a piece of cake if you crave it. Fruit or juice is just fine.
But for the rest of the day, you limit your food to two meals with three to five ounces of protein of any kind beef, chicken, fish, etc. and almost unlimited amounts of most vegetables. Two snacks between the meals include some protein and fat a handful of almonds, three meatballs or pork rinds, for example.
"I had a woman who lost 95 pounds in 13 months. She ate pork rinds for her snack," he said. She kept it off for 25 years.
Schauf is bullish on a diet with protein and fat. He attacks "the unbelievable and totally erroneous caloric theory," which he said fails because "it treats all food the same. It's insane. the reason for the obesity epidemic is people are taking out the fat. They should be taking out the sugar, refined starches and caffeine."
He said restricting calories doesn't get to the root of the problem.
"We know for a fact that in total dietary abstinence, almost 59 percent of the weight loss is from muscle and vital tissue. It's ridiculous. What you want to do is very simple. You feed the lean by giving the body the protein and fat. And you starve the fat. (Including fat in your diet) is a very important part. When you take the high-calorie foods out, you're lowering your metabolism. Most people with obesity are actually suffering from malnutrition. They're not getting the fat and protein they need."
So adding vegetable oil the best is olive oil is critical to reducing body fat, Schauf said. He also said people should be drinking four to six 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
"Everyone knows the answer to the obesity problem, but we still have a problem," he said.
He recently wrote a note to Michelle Obama, calling obesity "a threat to our national security." Since the first lady has made nutrition her top priority, he hoped to interest her in his diet plan to overcome obesity and "create positive, powerful habits of healthy living." He has not yet received a response.
"I've studied this for over 30 years," he said. "There's no question about this. It works."
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at(209) 578-2012 or email@example.com.