Einstein Truly a Family for Married-Couple Doctors
Einstein Healthcare Network is considered a family by many who work here. And for some of them, it’s literally true. A handful of married couples work as physicians at Einstein Healthcare Network.
Tuluca and Simhan
ALEXANDRA TULUCA, MD, Associate Chief of Cardiac Surgery, and JAY SIMHAN, MD, Associate Chair of Urology, met while they were residents in 2007, and have been married for five of the eight years they’ve been at Einstein.
They rarely see each other at work.
“Our schedules are very different,” says Dr. Tuluca. “Generally we spend the majority of the work day with our own teams.”
They may run into each other occasionally, but for the most part, just keep going.
“Most times it’s a wave or a head nod. Jay often says that he sees me but that I’m too focused to notice. I guess I just compartmentalize,” says Dr. Tuluca.
“Sometimes I hear more from people on my own team as to my wife’s whereabouts!” says Dr. Simhan.
Their medical specialties may be different, but they often serve as ad hoc consultants for one another.
“My wife is a super-talented surgeon,” Dr. Simhan says. “I’ve never met anyone else that can ‘hear’ about an operation and then know how to actually do that operation. As a result, she can often hear about my surgical cases and provide guidance and suggestions.”
Dr. Tuluca says they discuss challenging cases “and bounce ideas off of each other. I end up doing urology critical care in the middle of the night,” she laughs, “and in return get excellent service should my patients have a urology problem.”
The couple have two little boys, ages 2 and 4, and spend their time out of work doing little-boy things together, says Dr Simhan, “indoor things like trains, cars and dinosaurs and outdoor things like riding bikes, playing in the snow, jungle gyms and parks.”
Working together definitely enhances their relationship, they say.
“Knowing how things run here allows for less frustration when we inadvertently take work home,” says Dr. Tuluca.
And it enables them to “relate to each other’s daily challenges much easier because we know each other’s ‘environment’ well,” Dr. Simhan says.
Lee and Choudry
RASHAD CHOUDRY, MD, Chief of Vascular Surgery for the network and Chair of Surgery at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, and SUE LEE, MD, orthopedic hand surgeon at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, also met as residents and have been married for 16 years. They’ve spent 15 of those years at Einstein.
Dr. Choudry’s sister also works at Einstein – Rabia Choudry, MD, is Chief of Neurology at Einstein Montgomery – and for obvious reasons, some people think they’re married.
Dr. Choudry speaks colorfully in anecdotes, so he tells these stories to describe the advantages of working at the same place:
When his wife was in labor on the maternity ward on Nov. 19, 2013, “I was able to finish up an emergency vascular case and be back at bedside to watch my second daughter, Charlotte, be born. I even rounded the next day and brought her breakfast.”
Also, if he forgets something at home, he calls Dr. Lee to bring it. And recently, while driving one of the BMWs he restores to work, “it was overheating and no longer drivable. With 40 patients to see in the next half hour, it became stressful. Triple A would take hours.
“I remembered that my wife was only a few minutes behind me. Just like Enterprise Rent-a-Car, she picked me up! Car was taken care of later.”
As for a disadvantage, he says, jocularly: “We have colleagues and friends in common, and before you can tell somebody that you went on a trip or had dinner at Vetri, they already know. It kind of ruins the punch line. Everybody knows you. They know your work schedule, your children, the last time you had a fight. There are no secrets.”
Dr. Lee cites another disadvantage: occasionally, they’re both on call at the same time, subject to being summoned to deal with an emergency at the hospital on a moment’s notice.
“If we’re both on call and the babysitter is off, ” she says, “there’s a little bit of juggling that needs to occur” to make sure their daughters, now 8 and 13, have childcare.
In general, though, says Dr. Lee, “he understands what I do for a living, how things work in a hospital and at Einstein in particular.
“Our patients tend to be sicker than at other hospitals and don’t always have the social or economic means of obtaining appropriate care. It’s helpful that he understands the patients I treat. And it’s nice that we don’t have to explain to each other what’s going on at work.”
Dr. Choudry agrees that the experience of working together at Einstein enhances their relationship: “It allows for a tighter emotional bond,” he says.
Zeitzer and Zeitzer
RANDI ZEITZER, MD, Einstein family physician in Blue Bell, and KENNETH ZEITZER, MD, radiation oncologist at Einstein Philadelphia, met in 1987 when he was a fourth-year medical student and she was in college.
They’ve been married for almost 32 years. Kenneth has been at Einstein for nearly 29 of those years and Randi for five. But “I don’t see him at work at all,” Randi says.
“Randi is a primary care provider and I’m a specialist,” Kenneth says. “I also see more directly the inpatient side of medicine, so our view of the hospital and medicine are different but very complementary. I think we both help each other to see the ‘bigger picture’.”
In pre-pandemic days, Randi would come to Einstein Montgomery on Wednesdays for a management and quality meeting from 4 to 6 p.m., and they’d meet and go to a restaurant afterwards for “date night.” COVID put an end to that.
They do share patients sometimes, however – and hear about each other.
“I occasionally meet a patient whose family doctor is Randi, and they always have great things to say about her. What they tell her about me, I’m afraid to ask,” Kenneth says.
They do have wonderful things to say about Kenneth to Randi, but, she says, “I always tell them not to tell him.”
When Randi first started at Einstein, there were a fair number of misdirected phone calls, since both share the same last name, but that doesn’t happen very much any more.
Both doctors are deeply committed to their Jewish heritage, and first met in Jerusalem on a trip to Israel sponsored by Hillel.
They’re part of Einstein’s Jewish Health Resource Center (JRHC), which was established to provide culturally sensitive healthcare to observant Jewish patients. They educate staff about Jewish protocols, and also do outreach to the community.
The Zeitzers have two adult children, a son, 28, who’s a high school Latin teacher and a daughter, 25, who’s getting her PhD in plant ecology. Randi recently started volunteering at an animal rescue farm, where they both lead hiking trips – with baby goats.
Einstein is truly home to Kenneth Zeitzer; he (and Randi!) were born here; he was an intern from 1988 to 1989 and joined the staff four years later. Einstein is truly family for him, especially now that Randi works there, too.
So Happy Valentine’s Day to all who are part of the Einstein family, and for those whose families are part of Einstein.