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Dr. Ruben J. Acherman interview, July 18, 2019: transcript






Interviewed by Monsserath Hernandez, Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, and Claytee White. Dr. Acherman has been practicing in Southern Nevada for nearly 20 years and continues to care for the community at the Children's Heart Center of Nevada in Las Vegas. Born and raised in the small town of Palmira, Colombia with his two sisters and parents. His father is from Romania and immigrated to Ecuador while escaping from Nazi occupied Europe during World War II. Dr. Acherman eventually moved to Cali, Colombia in order to attend medical school. knowing that he wanted to specialize in cardiology and being unable to do cardiology in Colombia he immigrated to the U.S. and specialized in pediatrics at USC. After practicing for two years in Toronto, he was contacted by Dr. Evans in 2001 with an offer to work at his practice in Southern Nevada where he was able to successfully perform the first balloon dilation in the state of Nevada.

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Acherman, Ruben J., Dr. Interview, 2019 July 18. OH-03671. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. RUBEN ACHERMAN An Oral History Conducted by Monserrath Hernandez & Laurents Bañuelos-Benítez Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderon, Rodrigo Vazquez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benítez, Maribel Estrada Calderon, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Dr. Ruben J. Acherman’s family tree is a web of roots that trace the world and amazingly end up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has been a pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Heart Center of Nevada in Las Vegas for nearly two decades. Ruben Acherman was born and raised in the small town of Palmira, Colombia with his two sisters. His father, Saul, was a Romanian Jew who was denied entry by the American Consulate while escaping Nazi occupied Europe during World War II. He found safety in Ecuador and eventually made his way to Colombia. In Columbia, Saul met Esther Hurtado, whose family was of Middle Eastern Jewish decent; her father was originally from Morocco and her mother was v born in Aleppo, Syria, and lived in Jerusalem. After their marriage, Saul and Esther settled in Cali, Colombia. Dr. Acherman tells of growing up in Palmira, Colombia and then moved to Cali to attend medical school. In 1976, while completing his residency in San Pedro – a small rural town north of Cali – he met Elssy. Two months later they were married. When he finished his residency, Dr. Acherman returned to Cali to specialize in pediatrics. However, he was eager to concentrate in pediatric cardiology, which was not possible in Columbia. So he immigrated to the U.S. to attend the University of Southern California (USC). This was followed by a fellowship in pediatric cardiology in Toronto. He completed his fellowship and headed back to Los Angeles, where he held the position of the Director of Fetal Cardiology at the Children’s Hospital for several years. Then in 2001, he was approached by Dr. Bill Evans, founder of the Children’s Heart Center Nevada. Dr. Acherman knew he had met his kindred spirits: as a member of Dr. Evan’s group he knew that the patients would always come first—and treatment would not be denied for any matter, especially an inability to pay. Dr. Acherman became the first in Nevada to perform a fetal balloon dilation. Dr. Acherman remains committed to the community in Southern Nevada, which is home to him and Elssy and their two sons, Saul and Ilan. Both men are UNLV alumni and practicing lawyers. vi vii TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Ruben Acherman July 18, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Monserrath Hernandez and Laurents Banuelos-Benitez Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Describes his father and mother’s history and how both parents ended up being raised in South America. Talks about his father’s immigration from Romania to Ecuador during World War II to escape the Nazi Regime and how he came to settle in Palmira, Colombia. Also describes his mother’s heritage, whose parents met in Jerusalem before moving to Colombia……………7 - 9 Describes growing up in Palmira, a small town in Colombia, where he grew up. Talks about how accepting the Catholic community in Palmira was of his family’s Jewish faith. Goes into further details on why his father left Europe and under the conditions that he left. Tells of his father’s three sisters, all of who survived concentration camps. Talks about his move from Palmira to Cali Colombia in order to study medicine, and the small rural town of San Pedro where he was required to do his obligatory rural residency, and where he ultimately met his wife Elssy………………………………………………………………………………………10 – 12 Talks about Elssy’s Catholic family and their interfaith marriage. Tells of Elssy’s decision to convert to Judaism and the holidays that they celebrated. Begins to tell of his reasons for specializing in cardiology at USC and his interest in the then bourgeoning field of Pediatric Cardiology. Gives a brief background on the history of medicine as it pertains to pediatric cardiology. Describes his inability to continue studying cardiology due to a lack of financial stability and immigration status that ultimately results in his relocation back to Cali, Colombia to teach medicine……………………………………………………………………………13 – 17 Talks about his return to USC in order to complete pediatrics training. Describes his move to Toronto, Canada, and being called by two cardiologists, one being Dr. Bill Evans, for a position in Las Vegas in 2001. Describes his first experience with Las Vegas and his ultimate move to Summerlin in 2002. Goes on to describe how the city has grown with a brief description of the area that would become the I-215. Talks about the Golden Nugget and his first visit to Las Vegas….………………………………………………………………………….…………18 – 21 Compares the differences in healthcare between the United States and Colombia. Describes his practice and the various cardiology services they provide. Describes the close relationship that the practice has with sonographers and the financial obstacles that have presented themselves to the practice throughout the years. He discusses his philosophy on medicine, and how the profession has helped him grow both as a doctor and as a person…………………………22 – 28 viii Explains the changes that he has seen occur within the medical community in Las Vegas and in the country more generally. Describes the disappearance of mom and pop practices to bigger national for-profit corporations. Talks about his identity and the diversity in his own background and in his practice. Describes the importance of his ability to communicate in Spanish with his patients, and on the importance of preserving the Spanish language for children raised in the United States. Describes his sons’ educational upbringing………………………………29 – 34 Talks about the celebrations that he and his wife brought with them from Colombia. Talks about Colombian culture and cuisine. Describes the violence inflicted by the drug cartels in Colombia and how it affected the decision of many individuals to immigrate to other countries. Talks about his reason for staying in Las Vegas and one of his favorite places to eat in Las Vegas……35 – 40 Tells of the first balloon dilation that happened in Nevada. Describes the procedure in detail and the risks associated with this procedure. Explains ways that the procedure is practiced before it is done to patients and some issues that can lead to high risk operations like the balloon dilation. Describes the difficulty it takes for a family to reach the decision to operate……………41 – 46 Talks about some of the illustrations he has made on cardiology books as well as his affinity for painting. Talks about the term Latinx and about the community that he has seen evolve during his time in Las Vegas………………………………………………………………………47 – 55 9 Today is July 18, 2019. We are in the conference room at the Children’s Heart Center. I am Monserrath Hernandez. Today I am with… Claytee White. Laurents Bañuelos-Benítez. And Dr. Ruben Acherman. Can you spell out your name, please? My name is Ruben, R-U-B-E-N. In Spanish you pronounce it Ru-ben. The last name is A-C-H-E-R-M-A-N, pronounced Ak-er-man. I want to start a little bit with your family history. Can you tell us where Acherman comes from? My Acherman, because as you guys probably know, there are many Acherman families around in the United States and Canada, but my side of the Acherman comes from what is today Romania. That’s where my father came from. Did he immigrate to Colombia? Yes, during World War II. He was the only one in his family that was able to escape from the Nazis in his family. He wanted to come to the United States, but he didn’t get permission to come by the American Consulate. Do you know why? Well, they were not giving permission to many Jews at that time. As I understand from what he explained to me, it was a difficult thing to get. He heard that it was easier to go to South America, so he got a ship that was going to Ecuador and he got into that ship. At that time the ships had first class, second class, third class, and people that would go into even lower than third class where basically boxes and stuff came, and he went into that area because he didn’t have enough money to come. That’s the way he got to Ecuador. From Ecuador he started 10 working his way up and he got to southern Colombia. As you know, Colombia and Ecuador have a border, so he got to southern Colombia. Interestingly enough, before he got to southern Colombia, he had a visa to stay in Ecuador, he worked a few months in Ecuador, and only after a few months they gave him Ecuadorian citizenship because they were giving citizenship to Jews that were running from the Nazis. What year was this? I’m not sure. I’m sorry. It was probably the mid-thirties, but I’m not sure exactly which year. I know my father was fourteen years old when he arrived to Colombia by himself; that part I know. Then when he arrived in Colombia, what city was that? It was a small city, and even smaller at that time, called Palmira. It’s P-A-L-M-I-R-A. I suppose in English you would pronounce it Pal-my-ra, similar to the Palmyra. He arrived there and he found two or three families that were coming from Romania, too, Jewish families, and they helped him get a job. Then he stayed there and he met my mother there. They stayed in Palmira? Yes. I have two sisters and the three of us grew up in Palmira until we finished high school and then moved to the larger city to go to college. What city was that? Cali, C-A-L-I. Having your father from Romania, did you speak Romanian at home? No, because my mother spoke only Spanish, and my father spoke Romanian with his friends and Yiddish—you guys probably know that Yiddish is the language of the Jews in Europe because 11 they were moving from one country to another country, and they acquired a little bit of German, a little bit of this, and they mixed them together and Yiddish is spoken. Yiddish and Romanian with his friends. I still remember my father talking to his friends and we didn’t understand anything. He didn’t want to teach us the language because at that time what the older people believed is that it was better just to assimilate and forget about your past to be able to pass maybe for non-Jews. That’s the message that I got from them. Was your family a practicing Jewish family? My father was very religious, very practicing. My mother was a little less, but she was also practicing. I’ll tell you later where my family from my mother’s side came from. It’s a very interesting story, too. Go ahead and share it. That would be great. From my mother’s side, they are also Jews, but they came from the Middle East. My grandfather was born in Morocco and then from Morocco went to Jerusalem. My grandmother was born in Aleppo, Syria and from there she moved to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, they met, got married. The young couple went to Colombia, to the northern coast in Colombia. They moved their way down into southern Colombia and they ended up in Cali. Then my grandfather abandoned his family, his wife and his kids, and my mother stopped studies when she was twelve to start working to help support the family. She worked in a big store as a salesperson at that time. She worked for several years in that store, probably; she was a good employee. She kept her job for several years, and when she was seventeen, eighteen, my father went to that store to buy stuff for his business, and that’s where they met. They met and they married and they went to live in Palmira and my mother started working with my father in their own business. 12 What was it like growing up in Palmira? Oh, it was fantastic. Palmira was a small town, maybe at that time fifty thousand people; I’m not sure, but I’m guessing, with one movie theater and in Palmira it’s very typical the horse carriages. They go through the street not only for tourists, but people take one of those to go to the market to buy stuff, and they come back home in one of those. It was fantastic. I remember when we were six, seven, we would go by ourselves to the river to fish. Nobody worried that something is going to happen to their kids. We would walk and take whatever transportation, go there, fish, come back with a couple of sardines, and it was a fantastic childhood. There was, at that time in Palmira, twenty Jewish families. There was a nice community center and there was Sunday religious school. By the way, I went to a Catholic religious school. What was that like? Oh, it was fantastic. They treated me so well. I don’t remember anything in my life in Colombia with anybody saying or singling me because I was Jewish or I was different or my last name was different. It was fantastic. The priests treated me really well. My friends treated me really well, always asking questions, curious. What is it to be Jewish; what that means? Jewish killed Jesus Christ; how you feel about that? But they were not accusing me; they were just asking me questions. Well, I tried to answer the questions the best I could. I still remember that in the morning prayers, the priest in the classroom would ask me, “Ruben, we’re going to have morning prayers. Do you want to stay in or you want to go out and wait until we finish the morning prayers?” They had Catholic religion classes and they asked me, “You want to stay, or, if you want to go and read to the library, you can go and read in the library.” I needed to bring my notes from Sunday Jewish religion school so they could give me a religion note for my…But 13 I never had any, any trouble by being Jewish in that Catholic school. My sisters went, also, to a Catholic girls’ school, and they have the same impression that I had. They were very tolerant? Oh, completely. It was fantastic. We had a great, great childhood in that little town. How is going to Catholic school different from going to Jewish school on Sundays? Well, the only difference was that Sunday school was Sunday, so it felt a little like a holiday more than ‘you have to go there.’ It felt a little bit like a holiday. There was this very religious old man that we always tried to trick, moving the clock to make him feel like, okay, it’s time to leave, guys. It’s eleven. You’re free to go. When in reality, it was ten. Yes, it was not serious for us and it was interesting to hear all the stories about our ancestors and that stuff. None of us was very religious. The school was mainly about almost the Jewish civilian life, almost. More like history of who your people are; where is your family coming from? More than, oh, you need to read these players. You know what I mean? The ritual is more history, and we all like it, but we all got tired there, so we moved the little clock and the old man said, “Okay, it’s eleven. You guys are free to go.” Did your father ever explain why he left Europe? Oh yes. He was reluctant, but when we were a little older, my sister and I asked lots of questions because he always said, “I came from Europe and I never saw my parents ever again because they were killed by the Nazis over there.” His two parents and one older brother were killed. His three sisters were in concentration camps. Then from there they took sort of the exodus ships and they tried to move to North America; they couldn’t, so they were taken to Palestine. At that time it was the British Palestine. Then his three sisters remained there, and one of them my father helped her come to Colombia with her husband, and the other two stayed there in what today is 14 Israel. They passed away now. But all the siblings were either killed or in concentration camps. My father was the only one…There was this person that helped him get out somewhere and from there get on a ship to go to Ecuador. Do you know what concentration camps they were in? I don’t know, sorry. No, I don’t know. With my auntie, I never had that conversation. She never wanted to talk about it, ever, and I don’t think she ever talked about it with her kids, either. She didn’t want to talk about that. Take me to moving to Cali. What was that like? From Palmira to Cali? Palmira was a very small town and there was only one college there. The college was dedicated basically to agro, and my sisters and I were not interested in that, so we moved to Cali. In Cali I went to the university. It’s a little different than here, at least at that time it was. Instead of doing four years of college and four years of medical school, it was seven years of medical school. In the first years, they call it basic sciences, which is sort of like college: mathematics, physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, genetics; sort of basic sciences. Then after those three and a half years, then you move to clinical sciences, and that was more like what you would call medical school here. You enter medical school and it was from first to seven medical school and then you finished medical school and have to do one more year in Colombia; it’s an obligatory rural year. You have to go to a town where you’re the only doctor because they cannot get doctors to that town. I think it’s fantastic. You have to go to one of those places, like it or not. Where did you go? I went to a town called San Pedro, which is north to Cali, maybe like three hours north to Cali. Guess what? In San Pedro, I was finishing my rural year, like two months before I finished, and I saw that gorgeous girl in that corner over there, and I said, “Do you want to dance?” “Yes, I want 15 to dance.” And then we married two months later and we’ve been married for forty-one years now. Yes, isn’t that amazing? What’s her name? Elssy, E-L-S-S-Y. It’s an interesting spelling because in Colombia nobody spells Elssy like that. Her name is Elssy. We’ve been together since then, yes. LAURENTS: Can you tell us about her family history a little bit? Is her family native to Colombia? Yes, her family is native to Colombia. From her father’s side, they are coming from a state in Colombia that we call Antioquia. Maybe you guys have heard of Medellin. Most people know it because a drug dealer was in Medellin. But it’s a great city, a beautiful area, very hilly, mountains. Her father came from there. Colombians from that area, many of them are very white, green eyes or blue eyes, and he was like that. From her mother’s side of the family, they were very brown, more from the valley. My wife’s maternal grandmother was black. In the same way that we call them African Americans here, now they call them Afro Colombian; something like that. I would translate it something like that. They call them Afro Colombianos. My wife’s grandmother was Afro Colombiana and her father, I don’t know his background. He was also brown, but I don’t know his background. I think he was more coming from the native Colombians, I think so. But I never asked those questions to be honest with you. I can ask my wife to get more details. My mother-in-law and my father-in-law then had eight children, and my wife is one of those eight kids. Is she Jewish? Well, my wife is not. No, they are definitely not Jewish. They are very Catholic, all her family, very, very Catholic, Sunday in church, every Sunday. My wife and I when we married we 16 agreed, you’re going to keep being yourself; I’m going to keep being myself. I’ve never been religious. I don’t go to religious services. I don’t belong to any synagogue or anything. I consider myself Jewish because I am Jewish; that’s where my people come from. But from the religious standpoint I don’t believe too much in rituals and that stuff. My wife was very Catholic. Then we married and we had our first kid. We were in Cali at that time. The Hebrew school in Cali was very good academically, very, very strong, so my wife wanted the kid to go to that school. I was a general pediatrician at that time and I was the pediatrician of the kids of most teachers at that time of that school. That was another reason my wife said, “Yes, let’s send them there. It feels like family there. I know everybody. Everybody knows me.” A few years later my wife told me, “Well, maybe to make your mom happy and to have the kids under one roof, maybe I’ll convert to Jewish.” She talked to the rabbi and the rabbi told her, “Well, I don’t know what to tell you because your husband is not Jewish, either.” He said, “I will do the conversion with one condition; it is that your husband comes with you every night and I’ll do his conversion, too.” I said, “Well, Gorda…” I call her Gorda. Gorda means chubby. It doesn’t sound bad in Spanish, believe me; to say gorda in Spanish means like when you say pumpkin here. You don’t want to mean that that person looks like a pumpkin. Gorda is like something to call people. Endearing. Exactly. I said, “Gorda, I don’t know. I’m too old for these things.” And she said, “Well, let’s do it.” We went every night to that rabbi’s house for a year, for one year, oh my gosh. Your wife was committed to doing this. Yes, exactly, for one year. I told the rabbi, “The only reason I keep coming is because every time we finish the evening you give me a little glass of your great Melocoton brandy that you bring 17 from Hungary.” The guy was from Hungary. I had that brandy and it was fantastic. You could feel the Melocoton. I still remember the taste. At the end of the year he said, “Okay, Elssy, you’re ready. Okay, Ruben, you’re ready.” Then he started giving my wife this speech. “I hope you know what you’re doing. Jews have been persecuted for centuries. You think twice because you and your children may come into trouble and may be even killed one day just because you decided to convert to Jewish religion. You better think twice about it.” I remember he told her that very thing. My wife looked at me and said, “Nope, I want to do this.” We did it together. We had a ceremony and everything. My mother couldn’t believe it. Then the rabbi and his wife, in their house organized a little ceremony to marry us because according to the religion we were not married. Then the rabbi’s wife made all the food. They invited my friends, ten, twelve friends, and my mothers and my mothers’ families. That was it; that was the way he converted us. She was very Catholic and all her sisters continued to be very Catholic, yes. In that year going to that rabbi’s house, what did you guys do at his house? What did he teach you? From the beginning to the end. He went through the Torah, the first book, the second book; all that stuff that I already forgot. But he went through all that stuff that is actually very interesting from the historical standpoint, and I always thought how we take the history of these great people and we make it a religion, something that makes us different rather than something that could make us grow up together. To me religions are more dividing than uniting, but that’s very personal. I respect all religions. I don’t know which religions you guys practice. I respect everything. But that’s my personal thought, is that historically religions have not untied people; have separated people, but that’s the way it is. Growing up did you celebrate any Jewish holidays with your family? 18 My wife and I started to celebrate the three major holidays, and once the kids were older, I told my wife, “Well, I’m not very religious,” and we don’t really celebrate anymore. We don’t belong to any temple or anything. How did you specialize in pediatrics? What made you decide to do that? I finished medical school, went to my rural year. I would say historically children have been relegated to the last resources, and let me explain myself. Medicine evolved first as an adult medicine, to treat older people. What can we do with the kids? Well, they are so small, it’s difficult; they are difficult to treat and they die so easily. Medicine evolved as an adult medicine in the way cardiology evolved as adult cardiology. Nobody was interested in cardiology for children. In Colombia, especially in little towns, kids were dying right and left for stupid things like malnutrition, like no immunizations. When I did my rural year, I started being interested in kids. I said, “We need to put kids in the front of medicine, not in the back of medicine.” That’s what interested me. I said, “I am going to do pediatrics.” Then the same happened with pediatric cardiology. When I did my general medicine, we didn’t learn anything about pediatric cardiology. Everything was heart attacks and high blood pressure in adults. Then I started getting interested in pediatric cardiology just because it was also the abandoned child of adult cardiology. Actually, the first pediatric cardiologists were just adult cardiologists that got interested in pediatric cardiology and started working that. How is pediatric cardiology different than adult cardiology? Oh, it’s another world completely because it dedicates to malformations of the heart as opposed to acquired problems of the heart in adults, like probably we drink too much; we’ll get diabetes; we’re overweight. As a result of all that our arteries get hardened and we get heart attacks, but our hearts are normally well formed and then in adult life from different reasons, in big part 19 because we don’t take care of ourselves, we get a sick heart. Children are born with a sick heart and it’s more structurally, like instead of the two pumping chambers, only one works and the other doesn’t work at all, or one of the valves didn’t form well. The study and practice is completely different. An adult cardiologist doesn’t have enough training to treat a child born with a malformation. They are very complex because the same kid may have one artery that didn’t develop, one valve that didn’t develop, one vein that didn’t develop, and you need to go step by step. In adult medicine it’s more heart attacks and those sort of things that I wouldn’t be able to treat, either, because I’m not trained in doing that. Where did you specialize? I did pediatrics in Los Angeles at USC, LA USC Medical Center. First of all, actually in Colombia I did general medicine, rural year, came to do pediatrics in Cali, did three years of pediatrics, then stayed there for another six years at the university teaching, and after I finished I wanted to do cardiology so badly and I couldn’t do cardiology there, so I came here. Why? There was no program? Yes, there was no pediatric cardiology. It didn’t exist over there. It didn’t even exist at that time. I came here with my wife for a year and a half. I did some pediatric cardiology. I didn’t have enough money to stay and I didn’t have a visa to stay longer, either. What year was this? Eighty, around 1980. Then came here to LA USC Medical Center. There was a Colombian guy that was the director of the newborn intensive care unit, and his best friend was a pediatric cardiologist. He got me a position to work with this guy without salary and they got me a visa for eighteen months. I came and worked with him, but I couldn’t stay, and financially I couldn’t afford it, either, to stay without pay. I went back to Colombia and taught at the university. I 20 organized a small pediatric cardiology program. Then finally for six, seven years I saved money to come back. This time my mother remarried. My father passed away and my mother remarried with an American citizen, a Colombian also, an American citizen working in Florida. They moved to Miami and my mother got me citizenship. Well, first a resident visa and then I moved here to be able to do two years of pediatrics that I needed to do to be able to enter a pediatric cardiology program. I finished pediatrics, two years. I didn’t need to do the three years. I did the two years of pediatrics at USC and from there I went to Toronto, Canada to do pediatric cardiology. How long did you stay in Canada? Two and a half years in Toronto. What did you do over there? I did a fellowship in pediatric cardiology for two and a half years in Toronto. What was Toronto like? Oh, fantastic. I loved it. Fantastic. From the people’s standpoint, my favorite thing, which is food, food from all over the world—I tried stuff that I never tried in my life—people are fantastic from all over the world, from India, Pakistan, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia. I’ve never met so many people from so many places. In my time in L.A. I met mainly Latin American people because my English was not very good, so I met mainly Latin American people, so I didn’t practice English very well. But over there I didn’t have any choice; I had to talk to everybody and there were people from all over the world. It was a fantastic experience, but too cold. Too cold? Too cold. Nine months of winter. I couldn’t resist. A guy from Colombia? Winter in Cali where I’m from is when it rains two days in a row, people go to the street and tell each other, “This year 21 winter has been horrible.” Yes, that’s winter there and the rest is hot and humid in Cali. Then to go nine months of cold, I couldn’t resist. The kids loved it. The kids hated me when I said, “We’re moving,” because they offered me to stay there, but I couldn’t do it. We came back to California and I started working with USC. I was teaching at USC for eight, nine years before Dr. Evans offered me to come here. How did you meet Dr. Evans? They called me; the two cardiologists from here called me. You know what? I don’t know why they called me. Maybe they called a zillion people before they called me. CLAYTEE: It was just one. They just called you. Exactly, that’s what they said. I said, “Well, I know you guys have a long list. I was the last on the list and nobody else wanted to come.” Because when they called me I told my wife, “Eh, no, we’re not going to Las Vegas, Gorda.” What year was this? It was 2001 because I moved to Las Vegas in 2002. In 2001, and I said, “No, maybe, I won’t go to Las Vegas; I don’t know.” I didn’t actually know Las Vegas. I had been in the Strip; that’s it. I had this vision of living in one of those buildings with my two boys. I really didn’t know how Las Vegas was. These guys were smart enough to tell me, “You know what? Come one weekend with your wife on us and then we’ll drive you around and then we’ll talk and see.” I told my wife, “Well, I’ll go the free weekend in Las Vegas. Let’s go.” That’s when I came and met this guys who were fantastic. I like the philosophy of how they conduct the practice because it’s been my same philosophy: Patients first and the rest whatever. I joined them and I came here in March 2002. What part of town did you live in? 22 Now in Summerlin. For the first few months until my youngest son finished high school, I rented an apartment. Then we rented a little house in Summerlin. We liked that little house so much that after a year we offered and we bought it and we’ve been there since then, since 2003 or something like that. How have you seen Las Vegas change since you arrived? Oh my gosh. Growth-wise? Oh, amazing growth. I was here when—you guys are probably too young—but the 215 didn’t exist. The 215 was one street, wasn’t it? It was a street going around with one-way and the other way back here. Then slowly they were starting to build it. It was one of the best planned thin