Pathways to Palliative Care
Dr. Michael Weinstein: From Trauma Wards to Palliative Care
Marcin Chwistek, MD FAAHPM
On a hot and sunny day in Philadelphia, the first day of June of this year, I entered a large office building in Center City and took an elevator to the seventh floor. The building belongs to Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), and the surgical department occupies one of its top levels. Following a maze of narrow hallways, I found the office of Michael Weinstein, MD MBE MPH. Dressed in light green scrubs and burgundy clogs, he greeted me outside of his doors. Two boxes full of papers were parked alongside the wall. “I found a parasitology paper I wrote in college,” he told me gesturing toward the stacks. “I completely forgot I did that,” he said with a smile. Weinstein has a soft, quiet voice and unassuming demeanor that does not seem to fit the cliché image of an invincible trauma surgeon most of us are familiar with.
He invited me in and we sat down. His office has two large windows overlooking the street below, a desk, bookcases, a couch, and a large picture (a gift from his wife) hanging in the center of the wall depicting a scrubbed-in surgeon in an OR, holding hands together, as if in prayer. It is a copy of a painting by Dr. Joseph Wilder, a New York surgeon and artist. The picture is titled “Contemplation Before Surgery.” And as we talked about Weinstein’s successful career spent treating critically ill patients—and also the toll it took and the transformation he experienced as a result—I could not think of a more apt image.