Dr. A. Richard Grossman, known to his associates and patients as Dr. G, didn't get his name on the world-famous Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital in the usual way.
Hospitals most often name a major unit for the person who gives a mega-donation.
But Grossman received the honor in recognition of his surgical skills, contributions to medicine and his keen sense of public relations. Using all three, he built the center almost from scratch into one of the most sophisticated medical burn facilities in existence.
Grossman traces his interest in the field to an incident in 1958 when he was a young emergency room doctor in a Chicago hospital. Back then, there was little doctors could do for victims of severe burns. Ninety-eight students burned in an elementary school fire died.
"It was a terrible experience, and there wasn't a lot doctors could do," Grossman recalled in 1995.
In the 1960s, great strides were made in burn care, and Grossman stayed abreast of developments. When he arrived at Sherman Oaks, just shy of three decades ago, he persuaded administrators to set aside two beds for burn victims.
In 1970, the burn center at the hospital was officially founded with Grossman in charge. On its 25th anniversary, it was named in his honor. The unit now has 30 beds and the latest in high-tech equipment, including a pressurized hyperbaric chamber.
Over the years its patients have included comedian Richard Pryor, after his near-fatal incident while using cocaine, and numerous firefighters, including William Jensen, who was badly injured during the Calabasas / Malibu brush fire in October.