Dr. Marc Staman, First Hospitalist at Barrow, Retires After 42 Years
- Byline: Christina O'Haver
- April 7, 2023
Marc Staman, MD, the first hospitalist at Barrow Neurological Institute, has retired after 42 years of service to the organization.
As a hospitalist, Dr. Staman provided general medical care to hospitalized patients. He describes the job as being the “quarterback” of the inpatient care team.
“You consult with other specialists, depending on what you think the patient needs, and hopefully you facilitate a better experience for the patient, a better outcome, and coordinate their care in a way that’s cost-effective,” he said. “After discharge, you transition them to their regular physician or next place of care.”
But when Dr. Staman began practicing medicine in 1981, the term “hospitalist” didn’t exist.
Becoming a Hospitalist
After graduating from the University of Arizona College of Medicine and completing an internal medicine residency at a Phoenix hospital, the native Arizonan joined a private practice of internists. He began providing consultations for neurologists and neurosurgeons at Barrow.
But traveling between his office and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where Barrow is located, became too time-consuming as the demand for his consultations grew. Dr. Staman became the first full-time hospitalist at St. Joseph’s in 1999, joining a growing national movement of hospital-based physicians. A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine had proposed the term “hospitalist” in 1996 to define such physicians.
In 2000, Dr. Staman formed Desert Hospitalists with three other physicians, who have remained with the group ever since. Desert Hospitalists serves as the primary hospitalist group for Barrow. The group also works closely with Select Specialty Hospital, a critical illness recovery hospital which operates on the St. Joseph’s campus. Select Specialty appointed Dr. Staman as medical director of its St. Joseph’s-based location in 2008.
Excellence in Mind
At Barrow, Dr. Staman worked alongside neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuro-rehabilitation physicians, and residents to manage patients’ medical conditions. For example, steroids can reduce brain swelling but also raise blood sugar—a concern for neurological patients with diabetes. Dr. Staman helped navigate such challenges.
“Whenever a difficult medical problem arose in one of my patients, it was a relief and comfort to have the expertise of Marc at the helm,” said Robert F. Spetzler, MD, Emeritus President and CEO and Emeritus Chair of Neurosurgery at Barrow. “I have relied on his compassionate excellence countless times and have never been disappointed.”
Dr. Staman felt proud to support internationally renowned neurosurgeons and enjoyed learning from them.
“It was an amazing experience to be part of world-class care, to see people who came from all over the world for the expertise of the neurosurgeons,” he said.
He also saw that commitment to excellence demonstrated among the nurses and the physical, occupational, and speech therapists. He praised their exceptional caregiving and highlighted their dedication to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The nurses, therapists, housekeepers, and other staff were in the rooms for so long; I was in there for minutes,” Dr. Staman said. “I was so grateful for what they did. Everybody played a role, and I was just a doctor.”
Dr. Staman witnessed many changes in health care throughout his career, including advancements in imaging and the implementation of electronic medical records. One thing he has been especially pleased to see, though, is the expanded role of nurse practitioners—noting his collaboration with Virginia Prendergast, PhD, director of advanced practice nursing at Barrow.
“I’ve worked with Dr. Staman since the early 1980s,” Virginia said. “He has always embodied honesty and humility. Combined with his medical knowledge, these attributes made him a strong role model to bedside staff, nurse practitioners, residents, and attending physicians.”
Across the Bedrail
Dr. Staman always tried to ensure his patients felt heard. He reminded himself that if he listened long enough, the patient would tell him the diagnosis.
He could also relate to some of their experiences firsthand, as he was once a patient at Barrow after experiencing a seizure.
It was an amazing experience to be part of world-class care, to see people who came from all over the world for the expertise of the neurosurgeons.Marc Staman, MD
He felt fortunate every day that he was on the doctor’s side of the bedrail—and every day that he had the opportunity to help those who weren’t.
Sometimes patients didn’t get better, and those outcomes still stick with Dr. Staman years later. But he always approached his work with gratitude and the mantra, “This is a great day in the BNI.”
Dr. Staman already misses his colleagues, whom he refers to as his hospital family, and describes retirement as surreal.
“It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was seemingly the youngest doctor,” he said. “I can remember starting and trying to look as old and professional as I could.”
He isn’t hanging up his stethoscope for good, though. He plans to volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul’s free clinic, which provides medical care to uninsured and underserved individuals in the community.
He’s also looking forward to catching up with old friends, working toward exercise goals, and learning how to play his new keyboard piano.
“Marc will be greatly missed,” Dr. Spetzler said, “and I personally wish him an abundance of health and happiness in this next phase of his life.”