Dr. Robert Schorr established a leading psychiatric group in Modesto and was an advocate for mental health causes in the Central Valley.
He was so involved with establishing psychiatric services in the area, and serving on boards and committees, colleagues wondered how he found the time.
Schorr is the 2008 recipient of the Stanislaus Medical Society's John Darroch Award for Outstanding Physician, an annual honor given to a physician exemplifying dedication to patient care, educational support and community involvement.
It's the first posthumous award the society has given since the honor was created in 1998.
Schorr died on Jan. 27, 2005, from complications of an irregular heart beat while on a family vacation in Hawaii to celebrate his 60th birthday, said Helen Schorr, his wife of 39 years.
In 1978, he founded The Psychiatric Medical Group, a practice that today serves more than 3,000 children and adults a year. The practice, at 3425 Coffee Road, has four psychiatrists, three psychologists, three master's level counselors and a nurse practitioner.
Schorr, a child and adult psychiatrist, did more than see patients in the office. During his career, he was a consultant to Sierra Vista Children's Center, Stanislaus Teen Recovery Center and the county mental health department.
In the 1980s, he was the lead psychiatrist in developing the private psychia- tric hospital that later became the county-owned Stanislaus Behavioral Health Center. The county sold the Claus Road center to Doctors Medical Center last year.
As a legislative representative for the Central California Psychiatric Society, he was a political advocate at the local, state and federal level for expanding access to mental health services. He also pushed for better insurance payments for mental health professionals.
"I admired the way he was able to do so many things in the time he had available," said John Jacisin, a psychiatrist with Schorr's group. "(His death) was a big loss to the community."
About 75 percent of Schorr's patients were children with severe mental disorders. He understood the need to include the entire family in treatment, his wife said.
"Many times, mental illness is genetic," Helen Schorr said. "If a child has depression, the mom and dad may have it, and if they are depressed they have a hard time parenting."
Committed to education
The medical society also recognized Schorr's commitment to education. He was an assistant clinical professor at the University of California at Davis and taught doctors in Stanislaus County's family practice residency program.
He held seminars for pediatricians and family doctors, who are shouldering more of the burden of treating conditions such as attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder. He was generous with advice to family doctors who needed help with patients.
"He was extremely approachable and helpful," said Dr. Kathryn Bolton, a Modesto pediatrician. "He didn't belittle you. He would spend the time I needed to work through a patient's problem."
Helen Schorr served as office manager for The Psychiatric Medical Group, a role she has continued since her husband's death. The other shareholders in the group purchased the corporation.
Dr. Schorr graduated from Cornell University in 1966 and went to medical school at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed residencies in child and adult psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and a fellowship at UC Davis.
He came to Modesto to work as a psychiatrist for Stanislaus County's mental health department in 1977, then started his private practice the next year.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.