OCEANSIDE — Tri-City Medical Center has dedicated its emergency department resuscitation room in honor of Dr. Stephen Karas, MD, FACEP, the Medical Center’s former director of the Department of Emergency Medicine.
Karas has been committed to the Tri-City community for more than 45 years, since joining as an emergency department physician in 1975.
In 2017, after 42 years at the hospital, Karas received the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Tenure Award for holding the longest active career in the same Emergency Department in the continental United States.
It’s estimated that he participated in more than 2,000 life-saving resuscitations during a 45-year career in the emergency department at Tri-City Medical Center. Dr. Karas retired in March of this year.
“Dr. Karas has become an inspiration throughout the Medical Center and the Tri-City community,” said Tri-City Medical Center CEO Steve Dietlin. “Naming the resuscitation room in his honor will cement his legacy for generations to come. On behalf of our entire Tri-City Medical Center family and the broader Tri-City community, we’re forever grateful for the lives he’s saved and the families he’s touched over his four and a half decades with us.”
Reflecting on a recent interaction, Karas shared, “A patient came into the emergency department in cardiac arrest and the team and I were able to restart the patient’s heart, but he remained in a coma. We decided to treat the patient with therapeutic hypothermia, a relatively new treatment, in which we lower the body’s core temperature to reduce brain damage.
“Amazingly, the patient regained consciousness and walked out of the hospital two weeks later, first stopping by the Emergency Department to shake my hand. That was a memorable experience.”
“I chose Tri-City Medical Center back in 1975 because of the incredibly warm and welcoming staff. It seemed like a place where I could grow in emergency medicine, which turned out to be absolutely true,” said Karas. “It is an incredible honor to have the resuscitation room dedicated in my name, and for the continuous support of the Medical Center’s board of directors, administration, physicians, nurses and staff. I have felt so supported by all of them throughout my career. Tri-City Medical Center has been an incredibly positive and supportive environment.”
Karas has also served as a mentor to physicians, residents and paramedics and was instrumental in the development of a physician training partnership with both UC San Diego and the Navy.
He also worked closely with the nursing staff to teach the first paramedics in the early years of paramedicine, including establishing Oceanside as one of the first cities in San Diego County to staff ambulances with paramedics.
Dr. Gene Ma, a longtime emergency room physician at Tri-City Medical Center and current Chief Medical Officer, was one of the residents who rotated through the medical center and credits Karas as being instrumental in his growth as a physician.
“Dr. Karas has been an inspiration throughout my career at Tri-City Medical Center, and his impact on both our team and the community at large is immeasurable,” said Ma. “During my residency, he mentored me and helped me become the physician I am today.”