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Well-known Alton physician dies at 83

2:44 PM, Aug 3, 2009   |    comments
Dr. Daniel Platt
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KSDK -- The following was issued by Alton Memorial Hospital regarding the recent death of renowned physician Dr. Daniel Platt:

"Dr. Daniel Platt made a name for himself when he moved to Alton in 1954. One need look no further than Alton Memorial Hospital's surgery/emergency building that was built in 1994 and named Building E at the time. Since 2002, it's been known as the Daniel W. Platt Wing.

Dr. Platt died Friday in St. Louis at the age of 83. But his legacy will go on forever at Alton Memorial, where he worked for 48 years. And it's not just because of the wing's name or because of the plaque and bust located near the entrance to that wing. Dr. Platt's accomplishments make it impossible to overestimate his importance to the advancement of medical technology in the Alton area.

"He was the best doctor I ever met," said Dr. Edward Cornell of Godfrey, a retired surgeon who worked with Dr. Platt for almost 40 years. "Dr. Platt was enormously revered by everyone at Alton Memorial."

"Nobody has done as much for the hospital as Dr. Platt," said Paul Lauschke, president of the hospital's board of directors. "He has been the leading force that set the pace for all surgical procedures at Alton Memorial. The plaque in the lobby says it all - a gifted man, consummate physician, an outstanding example for all."

Following Dr. Platt's retirement in 2002, the American Society of Anesthesiologists newsletter called him "the type of physician of which legends are made," and said that Dr. Platt "was the doctor we all wanted to be in medical school."

"Dr. Platt always had the best interests of the patients in mind," said Dave Braasch, president of Alton Memorial Hospital. "He was highly respected by the staff and the physicians with whom he worked. He was all about the values and mission that Alton Memorial Hospital lives by at all times."

Dr. Platt introduced endotracheal anesthesia to Alton Memorial in 1955 for even the most common operations. Until then, ether was the choice for minor procedures. That same year he helped open the area's first surgical recovery room at Alton Memorial. Dr. Platt also instituted caudal anesthesia (a form of epidural anesthesia) for maternity patients. He was the first to introduce closed-chest cardiac massage - later known as CPR - in the Alton area.

Dr. Platt established the first coronary care room (later known as ICU) at AMH. At the time, Barnes Hospital was the only other hospital in the region with a similar concept. He was also performing pain management in 1955 when no one else in the area was doing similar work. That helped attract orthopedic surgeons to the Alton area.

"He was a wonderful person and a brilliant doctor," said Dr. Robert Hamilton, another retired surgeon who worked with Dr. Platt for almost 30 years. "He had the highest professional standards of any physician I've ever seen."

Dr. Platt and his wife, Jo Ann, came to Alton from New York City, where he was co-chief of the Anesthesia Department at Knickerbocker Hospital and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Jo Ann Platt, who preceded him in death last fall, was from the Midwest and Dr. Platt had earned his medical degree at Chicago Medical School. Both were eager to return to the Midwest and Dr. Platt wanted to practice a personal, patient-centered style of medicine that was impossible in a larger, more urban hospital setting.

Though neither of them had ever been to Alton before, the Platts had seen that AMH was looking to hire an anesthesiologist, so they continued on to Alton after driving from New York to Jo Ann's home in Evansville, Ind. Dr. Platt had a list of requirements
for the kind of hospital where he would want to work - a hospital with board-certified surgeons, a good medical staff and ambitions to grow. Alton Memorial fit the bill, and the family lived in Alton from 1954 until moving to St. Louis approximately 20 years ago.

"I've never seen anyone come close to his interest in the overall care of the patient," Dr. Cornell said. "People would request that Dr. Platt be the anesthesiologist for their surgery, which is something I've never heard of anywhere else. He had his own practice, which is unheard of for that field. I know it helped me get patients if I told them that they would also get Dr. Platt.
"And he practically lived at the hospital. You would see him here late at night following up the day's surgery patients, and he would also speak with patients the day before their surgery. Then he was always back in by 7 or 7:15 the next morning."

When Dr. Platt wasn't at the hospital, it wasn't hard to find him. His home number was always in the Alton phone book. And if he wasn't home, Jo Ann would do her best to track him down.
"He spent many long hours at the hospital and when he would finally go home he was still available by phone, at any hour," said Carol Noble, a nurse at AMH from 1964 until her retirement last year. "I first met Dr. Platt in 1961 when I entered nurses training. He was a wonderful teacher and loved it when students showed an interest. He would go out of his way to include us in a teaching situation. He could be quite tough and expected perfection. In later years we told him he had mellowed some and he just laughed."

"The patients loved him and frequently requested he give their anesthesia. Just before they would fall asleep he would gently touch their faces and say, 'Pleasant dreams.'"

In addition to his hospital duties, Dr. Platt was chief of staff at AMH in the 1970s. He was also an instructor of Anesthesia at Washington University and supervised the medical students who were sent to AMH for part of their anesthesia training. Dr. Platt served as adjunct clinical professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in Alton; was a consultant to Jersey Community Hospital and Alton State Hospital; and for many years he oversaw the anesthesia departments at St. Joseph's Hospital (now Saint Clare's) and Saint Anthony's Medical Center, as well as AMH.

Dr. Platt was also the anesthesiologist on call during President Ford's trip to Alton during the 1976 presidential campaign.
"Dan Platt set the tone for all of what's been good in the medical community," Dr. Hamilton said. "He felt a personal responsibility for his patients and would develop a real rapport with them. That was important to him and, of course, it meant everything to his patients."

While many doctors retire early, Dr. Platt was nearly 76 before he retired in the spring of 2002 after close to 48 years at Alton Memorial. He said his focus the entire time was on what was best for the patients.

"You do what's right and you do what's best," he said in 2002. "Once you see a solution to a problem that seems adequate and progressive, you adopt it as soon as possible."
Dr. Platt is survived by three children - Drew Platt of Houston; Brett Platt of London, England; and Carol Platt Liebau of San Marino, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Lupton Chapel in University City, Mo. A memorial service will be conducted at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Alton Memorial Hospital's Cafeteria Conference Rooms. Interment will be private.

Memorials can be made to the Alton Memorial Health Services Foundation at the hospital. For more information, call the AMH Development Office at 618-463-7701."

KSDK

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