Our good friend, Dr. Jules Amer, passed away at home in the company of his wife, Marilyn, and family on Saturday – just a week before his 93rd birthday. Jules received his BA in chemistry from the University of North Carolina and his MD from the University of Cincinnati. He received the Intern of the Year Award at New York City Metropolitan Hospital in 1950 and subsequently did a residency in pediatrics at Queens General Hospital and Contagion. He then came to Colorado in 1952 to study an outbreak of Western Equine Encephalitis, as one of the first Epidemiologic Intelligence Officers of the Centers for Disease Control. Jules subsequently became the City Epidemiologist at Denver General Hospital where he: “chased Hep A, polio, salmonella, staph sepsis and influenza”. He soon joined the inner-city, Children’s Medical Center pediatric practice while continuing to make rounds at TCH, CGH and DGH, where he, “kept close to the house staff and the full-time faculty at each institution.”
Throughout his career in pediatric practice, he maintained a close relationship with Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He was at various times Chief of Medicine, President of the Medical Staff and President of the Board of Directors of Children’s Hospital Colorado, and his leadership was instrumental in the creation of many of its programs including: Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, Neonatology, Pediatric Intensive Care, and the Children’s Hospital Research Center. In recognition of his many contributions, the Jules Amer Chair in Community Pediatrics was established to promote the health and well-being of all Colorado’s children.
As Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Jules was frequently recognized for his outstanding service and teaching. For him, there was no such thing as “town versus gown.” He encouraged collaboration between Colorado healthcare institutions, supported research in the office and, as the consummate clinician, taught literally hundreds of students, residents and fellows the critical importance of honing their clinical skills and judgment in the care of their patients. When asked which febrile child needed testing of the spinal fluid, he would chuckle and say “I only tap the ones with meningitis.” Point taken!
Most importantly, Jules Amer inspired us to emulate his commitment to care for the “sick and the poor” – the individual child in our care at any moment, as well as all children, who are often left without an advocate when economic and political decisions are made. Jules taught generations of physicians, nurses, office staff and anyone who would listen, the importance of, not just providing care, but of caring about every child, every problem, every person from the heart.
Jules Amer believed that, as we encounter parents and their children, many in difficult circumstances, as they cautiously open-up to us and we to them, we learn to see the humanity in everyone and learn something about ourselves. Fortunately, Jules shared with us a book of often humorous, frequently poignant reminiscences: Intimate Strangers – Stories from a Lifetime of Practicing Medicine. Through it, he will continue to instill in generations to come, the privilege of truly caring for “the sick and the poor”.
He will be missed but never forgotten.
A public memorial for Jules is being planned to occur in the next several months.
Cards and remembrances can be sent to:
Marilyn Amer & Family
C/O Children’s Medical Center
1625 N. Marion St,
Denver, CO 80218