The Medical Assembly Line

by Thomas Greco, Publisher

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who made this year’s NORTHEAST® Automotive Services Show a massive success. We could not pull it off without the great teamwork and help of the AASP/NJ Board and, of course, all of our speakers, attendees and vendors! NORTHEAST keeps getting bigger and better. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2025!

NORTHEAST week is stressful no matter how you look at it – that’s the nature of the beast. But this year was even more stressful than normal because on the Monday before the show, I received a call from my nephew telling me that my older brother Ralph was admitted to a hospital and placed on a ventilator. Needless to say, I raced over to see him, and I have to tell you, it was a pretty devastating sight. What was even more devastating was the confusion and lack of coordination from his doctors.

Allow me to backtrack a little. For 40-some years, Ralph and I shared the same general practitioner, a local guy we all knew, and he was amazing. He was just as much a friend as a doctor. You know, the no bullshit kind of doctor who gave it to you straight: “Either do what I say, or you’re going to f#$king die.” 

Whenever we would get sick, Dr. Giuliano would take the lead and make sure we got whatever treatment we needed to get better. We could call him anytime day or night. He was always there. I remember vividly how, when I was rushed to the hospital with chest pains, he met us there and held my hand, telling me, “I won’t let you die.” Another time, I was as sick as I’d ever been with the flu. He wanted me to go to the hospital, but I refused because I knew with my history, they would keep me for days. So he brought me down to his office, put me in one of his exam rooms, hooked me up to intravenous for five hours, turned off the lights, closed the door and allowed me to get better without going to the hospital.

Dr. G., in his typical caring way, was there for everyone when COVID struck. And of course, in thinking of everyone else but himself, he caught the virus. And it killed him. He was only 64. 

When I had my first heart attack and open heart surgery, I came out of the hospital looking for a cardiologist. Every one of the doctors I met with were heartless and cold. Maybe that’s part of the job. But then I found Dr. Irving Goldfarb. And he, like Dr. Giuliano, was like a guardian angel. For almost 30 years, Dr. Goldfarb took care of me. Whenever I had heart issues or anxiety relating to them, he would answer my calls or see me and reassure me. Always with a joke! And it didn’t matter if it was my heart. I called him one time when I couldn’t shake flu symptoms, and he insisted I come see him. Turns out I had a bleeding ulcer. He put me in the hospital and personally looked after me, even though it had nothing to do with my heart.

I had an appointment with Dr. Goldfarb in December of 2022. A few days before that, his office called me to say that Dr. Goldfarb had retired immediately and I would have to reschedule with the new doctors who had taken over his practice. I was shocked. I asked what the hell happened. All the office would tell me was that he had received a diagnosis and retired. 

I made some calls, and all I could find out was that the doc was sick and not much more. A few days after Christmas, there was a voicemail on my phone. It was from Dr. Goldfarb. I called him back, and he told me he had been diagnosed with stage four appendix cancer and that he was very sorry that he didn’t get the chance to tell me earlier. I told him he was being silly, that he had to take care of himself. I also told him that now it was my duty to return the favor and help him in any way I could. He thanked me and said to keep in touch. I texted him a few weeks later and encouraged him to hang in there. He replied, “I’m trying.” 

Dr. Goldfarb died a month later. 

So what do you do when you lose the two men who kept you healthy for the majority of your life? Two GREAT men who were not just doctors but GREAT friends. 

You don’t have many options. The doctor who has taken over for Dr. Goldfarb seems to be a really good guy. He has responded much like Dr. Goldfarb. But it’s not the same. And that brings me back to Ralph. We both had to find a replacement for Dr. Giuliano. The doctor we chose is a younger man and very smart, but like the majority of doctors these days, he works like what I call assembly line medicine…in and out as fast as possible with very little interaction. The one other thing that he doesn’t do is go to the hospital. Now, I didn’t think that was a big deal because if I go to the hospital, I will go under my cardiologist’s care. But as it turns out, it was a big deal with Ralph. 

With no quarterback to coordinate everything, we were left in a cloud of confusion as Ralph lay there on the respirator. The ICU doctors say one thing. The kidney doctor says another. The cardiologist says another. The pulmonologist says another. Our heads were spinning. And of course, our general practitioner who doesn’t go to hospitals was nowhere to be found. 

For better or worse, Ralph took matters into his own hands. On the third night in, after we had all left, he pulled the respirator out himself. Thankfully, his breathing came back to normal, and after a brief stay at a rehab center, he is home. Hopefully, he learned what he needs to do so this doesn’t happen again. 

I guess the moral of this story is, in today’s world, unless you have doctors like Giuliano and Goldfarb, the best advice I can give you is:


Want more? Check out the April 2024 issue of New Jersey Automotive!