Dr. David Speiser
by Yvonne Liu
Dr. David Speiser, a medium-built 49-year-old man, stared intently at the memory books filled with 10 years of family photos – a child’s first steps, a son’s first day of kindergarten, a daughter’s soccer victory. But someone was missing from these photos, and that someone was him – the father of the three children. Shaken and stirred to action, Speiser vowed to change his life, not wanting to miss the next decade of his children’s lives.
Before moving his practice to San Pedro a year-and-a-half ago, Palos Verdes Peninsula resident Speiser had a busy Long Beach practice, driving between 100 to 250 miles each day to eight hospitals for 19 years. After that fateful day when he nearly broke down after pouring over family photos, he decided to press the reset button.
Speiser relocated his practice and now sees fewer patients. Instead of traversing the highways and sprinting from hospital to hospital, the doctor walks 60 yards from his OB/GYN office to the Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro. Other times he drives a short distance to or either hospital in Torrance.
Son of a Holocaust survivor, Speiser was raised for success. Not only did his father build a successful chain of clothing stores, he had the opportunity to cook for President Richard Nixon and other dignitaries. Residing first in Montebello, Calif., the family moved to San Marino for its high-caliber schools.
Speiser graduated from the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine and did his internship and residency at New York University. He then returned to Southern California. Shortly afterwards, he met his future wife, Lisa, a neonatal-intensive care nurse at Long Beach Community Hospital.
Explaining how they met, Speiser said, “She thought I was an orderly. I was sitting on a small stool in the hallway and was post-call, going on 25 hours with no sleep, and I was looking very tired. Thinking I was an orderly, she asked me to move a patient and then clean up one of the rooms. She impressed me and I looked up and thought, ‘Who is this person?’ I was very tired but as soon as I finished my patient notes I went into that patient room and helped her clean up the mess. The next day she came up to me and apologized, explaining that she thought I was an orderly. After getting a good night’s sleep and once I could see straight, I thought to myself, “Wow!’ I found out she was not dating anyone and I asked her out. Fortunately, she thought I was nice because I helped her. From our first date until today, I still believe that I was luckiest guy to be an orderly that day.”
The couple have been married 14 years and have three children, Noah, 11, Hannah, 8, and Sophia, 4.
“I’m a driven individual,” says Speiser, who used to work from 5 a.m. until well into the night at his former practice. But after his epiphany one-and-a-half years ago, Speiser said, “I realized that I don’t want to be in my 70s, commiserating to whomever will listen that I wish I could do it over again and not be a stranger to my family.”
Today at his San Pedro-based practice, Speiser says that he takes the time to really get to know his patients as he guides them through the 40-week gestation period.
“When I did my first delivery I was completely blown away,” says Speiser. “Each delivery is still special to me. It’s not just a job. It’s exciting to be part of something so significant in a person’s life, and then get a hug from the patient after a baby is delivered or later at the office. I love being in the operating room; there’s no room for error and every minute counts.”
Nancy Carlson, chief executive of Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro says of Speiser, “As a well-trained and experienced OB/GYN with expertise in minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery, Dr. Speiser has quickly emerged as a physician focused on quality care.”
“He’s very loyal to his patients,” Carlson added. “For example, when one of his patients is diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, he remains very close to her and even assists our gynecologic oncologist Dr. Ramin Mirhashemi in surgery. He makes himself available to provide education and consultation to our nurses, nurse practitioners and community members. He has that teaching talent and is a great communicator.”
In addition, Carlson went on, “As an advocate for women of all socioeconomic backgrounds, Dr. Speiser serves as the medical director of our Women’s and Children’s Clinic in Lomita. The clinic provides pre-natal and pediatric care to the underserved people in our community. It’s part of our mission to serve the poor and the vulnerable through our community outreach programs. We’re very lucky to have his expertise and commitment to that program.”
Dr. Mauricio Heilbron, chief of surgery at the hospital said, “Dr. Speiser has been a welcome addition to our staff here. He fits in perfectly with our mission to provide patient-centered care of the highest quality to our San Pedro neighbors. I know my patients will be well taken care of when I send them to him.”
Moving his practice closer to home and seeing fewer patients have their benefits. On weekdays, Speiser helps his wife get their children ready in the morning and he takes them to school. He also cooks gourmet meals for the family. When he’s not working, the doctor coaches his daughter’s soccer team, referees for his son’s soccer team, and enjoys reading, music and surfing.
Asked where he sees himself in five or 10 years, Dr. Speiser answers, “Right here, having a quality practice and spending time with my family.”
In more recent Speiser family photos, no one is missing. Dad is very present, smiling alongside his wife and three kids, enjoying and treasuring their moments together. PEN