Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Medic on Wheels: From Hospital to Clinic to Office, Kurtis Opp Bikes Everyday As Much As He Can

Kurtis Opp leaving CPMC/Davies for next stop

Convenient, secure parking at CPMC Davies Medical Center

Kurtis Opp has been part of the local medical community for 20 years, since 1991, and the last dozen of those he's relied on his bike to get around town. He lives in the Mission and bikes via the Wiggle and the Panhandle to St. Mary's Hospital on Stanyan street. Four days a week he bikes "six to nine minutes" from his home to Davies Medical Center at Duboce and Castro. Add his office hours at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center and working with colleagues at other clinics and Opp logs a lot of miles every week on two wheels.

“I bike everyday as much as I can," Opp explained from his dermatology office at Davies. He even finds time to bike to workout sessions at Bush and Van Ness. For him, biking is part of a healthy life. But it's also the best way for him to keep a busy schedule without worrying about slow traffic and parking hassles.

Opp is a San Francisco native who attended SF State and then graduated from Stanford University's Physician Assistant program. His first medical job was in cardiac surgery followed by urgent care in an Emergency Room setting. In 1993 he started working with a pioneer of HIV/AIDS care, Marcus Conant, MD, who began one of the first HIV- related clinics in the country at UCSF. Opp has been heavily involved in HIV work since then. He took a position at Davies Medical Center as a PA-C in 2003 with a focus on medical dermatology. "HIV dermatology is my specialty with skin cancers and HIV cancers," Opp said. His Davies practice also includes cosmetic dermatology. In addition, Opp works as the HIV dermatologist at St. Mary's Hospital, takes appointments at Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and treats people with HIV seeking liposuction injections.

Opp sees bicyclists with injuries all too often. "Most have been seen in an ER somewhere first, but then they seek follow-up care. It happens every five to six weeks." Many of his patients report injuries due to getting doored or from slipping on Muni tracks. On his daily rides, Opp said he is annoyed with the frequency of motorists blocking his way. "I would like to see more police enforcement of double parking in the bike lanes.”

Not many of Opp's colleagues at the Davies office building ride, but he noted that the bike racks at the medical center are usually full. His own biking passion has taken him on four AIDS rides from San Francisco to Los Angeles and another from Fairbanks to Anchorage. He learned to keep his bike helmet on at all times while riding. "Wearing helmets and safe biking was ingrained in us on those rides. Now I don't leave anywhere without a helmet and my high visibility jacket." Or his matching pink and orange pig on his handlebar.

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