(Read more about how we're recognizing the
"As a patient as a young adult and into my 40s, he provided holistic care, always caring about me not just as a diagnosis to treat but a person to embrace," said
The line of friends and admirers who stepped forward to endorse Cleaveland for the Champions of Health Care Lifetime Achievement Award was long and passionate. Most pointed to his shimmering resume -- he is a former
For his part, Cleaveland, says, with characteristic modesty, that he gained just as much from his patients as they got from him.
"I encountered some of the most incredible people, who were pushing uphill against terrible disabilities or bad cancers," Cleaveland says. "These patients taught me about courage and steadfastness. I saw people who had bucked tough odds all of their lives. I saw some of the most honorable aspects of human character."
In recent years, Cleaveland has authored a weekly column, "To
The formative years
The son of a
Cleaveland said he was headed to the
After his senior year at Duke, he spent a summer as an intern at
After Duke, he began his medical studies at the
He later finished his medical degree at the prestigious
"The two years I spent in
After his military service was done,
"When I started in
Over time, Cleaveland said he saw amazing advances in medical science and an influx of specialists. While treatment improved, specialization has been dispiriting to some internal medicine docs, he says.
"Adult medicine has been so carved up it's almost unrecognizable," he says.
Family physicians are unsettled, he said. "I had one tell me recently, 'I'm just a garbage man. I gather up the patients after the sub-specialist can't do anything."
For all the advances in medicine, Cleaveland says
"Some of the co-pays on people with Medicare are mind-blowing," he says.
He said medicine in
Throughout his medical career, Cleaveland said he tried to treat those entrusted into his care as people first and patients second.
"It's the difference in saying 'let's go see the diabetic in (room) 409,' vs. saying, 'let's go see the man in 409 who happens to have diabetes."
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