Doctor takes own medicine

Dr. Robert Gorab rolls out of bed just after 5 a.m. before strapping on his helmet and hopping on his vintage jet-black bike to start his 10-mile trek to work.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Newport Beach resident goes through the same routine — all before performing up to eight hip and knee replacement surgeries at the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine.

Gorab, 50, the chief medical officer at the institute, also performs surgeries and checks up on patients in physical therapy at the Orthopaedic Specialty Institute in Orange. Averaging 11-hour workdays, he uses his commuter bike-riding as an example for his patients, many of whom come to him because of arthritis or sedentary lifestyles.

"If I can fit exercise into my schedule, [my patients] can too," he said. "I think it's a good message to send to them."

Once Gorab arrives at work, he locks up his bike, showers in the locker room and slips on his favorite royal blue scrubs before being joined by Susie Porter, 46, a nurse practitioner who assists him throughout the day.

"We've kind of been joined at the hip for awhile now," Porter said, laughing.

Porter worked with Gorab at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange before Gorab started at the institute about two years ago. The institute's Irvine location made it possible for Gorab to bike to work using a mixture of main roads and bike trails from his Newport Beach home.

Porter, who has worked with Gorab for about 11 years, said his patients have been inspired by his dedication to exercise. She said the amount of exercise patients do before surgery can affect their recovery time.

"Patients love that I ride my bike to work," Gorab said. "I've had patients tell me they feel like they should do it too."

Gorab exercises at least five times a week, including mountain biking with friends at Crystal Cove State Park on the weekends. He played in an adult ice hockey league up until last year, after incurring one too many injuries.

Gorab replaces the hips and knees of some patients who are only a few years old than he is.

"The nice thing about cycling is you can do it at any age," he said. "It's easier on your joints than running."

Gorab's 18-year-old son, Jack, a former stand-out soccer player at Corona del Mar High School, admires his father's commitment to exercise.

"I think it's nuts," said Jack, who's heading off to Brown University on Aug. 11. "It's crazy. I can't even believe he can do that. I have so much respect for him."

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