Clouds and sun

A doctor's vocation comes to a close

  • Bob Schultz has been a doctor at Kaiser for 30 years and in that time has delivered about 2,500 babies as an Ob-Gyn, supervised 300 doctors, and 1,100 health care workers at the Santa Rosa complex. All that will change in April when Schultz retires to spend more time with his wife Priscilla, right and spend a summer vacation at the couples farmhouse in upstate New York. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

Bob Schultz is looking forward to a summer at his farmhouse in upstate New York, walking his dog, peering into the heavens with a telescope and settling down with Sudoku puzzles.

"I haven't had a summer off since grade school," said Schultz, who turned 64 last month and is retiring in April as chief of the medical staff at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center.

Schultz's 30-year career as an obstetrician-gynecologist and administrator parallels Kaiser's growth from a clinic at Creekside Plaza in 1980 to a medical megacomplex that handles 141,000 patients at facilities in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma, accounting for about 44 percent of the county's privately insured residents.

In addition, Kaiser treats 25,000 Sonoma County Medicare patients and 15,000 people enrolled in Medi-Cal and other public programs.

With 2,666 employees, Kaiser is also the largest private employer in Sonoma County.

His first morning at Kaiser's Creekside clinic, Schultz saw 23 patients, and said he was "thrilled to work hard" after a brief stint in private practice in Oregon.

Schultz went on to deliver about 2,500 babies, working an obstetrician's long and unpredictable hours. As physician-in-chief since 1995, overseeing 300 Kaiser doctors and 1,100 other health care workers, Schultz works 60- to 70-hour weeks.

He's a bachelor half the year, as Priscilla, his wife of 42 years, lives on the 30-acre upstate New York farm from May to October.

That's all going to change, as Schultz, a slender man with gray hair and beard, is leaving Kaiser eight months before hitting mandatory retirement age of 65. He'll be with Priscilla and Butte, his black Labrador "walking buddy," in the countryside near the Berkshire Mountains when the fall colors — Schultz's favorite sight on Earth — explode in October.

He worked in his father's butcher shop as a teenager, as a park ranger while attending Santa Clara University and as an electrical engineer for Raytheon in Massachusetts before finding his calling. He enrolled in UC Berkeley's public health graduate program in 1970, and then switched to medical school at UC Davis and finished there in 1976.

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