David Rupkalvis

I grew up the son of a nurse. In my early years of life, I was in the hospital all the time ... and I was never sick. 

But since my mom was an Army nurse, her three children often accompanied her to work when she was there late or had to go in real early.

Now I can see it was not an easy life for my mom, but back then it was simply life. It didn’t seem strange to me at all. It was perfectly normal knowing every doctor and knowing my way around a hospital when I was like 3.

I remember riding up and down the elevators with my sisters just for fun. At one hospital, the elevators were fancy with the glass backs, so we would go up and down and up and down, just watching everyone.

When we got bored, we would head back to the clinic and eat candy, talk to doctors and nurses. We were pretty much at home.

The best part was any time we were sick, which wasn’t often, we never had to make doctor’s appointments. First, my mom would diagnose us herself. Then we’d just grab a doctor in the hall who would look us over, give his or her opinion and write a prescription. Ten minutes in and out. Best of all, since it as an Army hospital and my parents were active-duty, it didn’t cost a cent.

That didn’t last long, but the respect I learned as a child for those working in the medical profession has lasted my entire life. 

I no longer look forward to going to the doctor like I did as a kid. Now it’s usually more than 10 minutes and a lollipop, but the end result is I see and meet medical professionals who are smart, talented and dedicated.

Tonight, Tucson Local Media will host the first Influential Health and Medical Leaders dinner and awards ceremony. Being new to Tucson, this event has been an eye-opener to me. But what I have learned is Tucson is fortunate to talented and dedicated doctors, nurses and other professionals who put the patient first.

I always know Tucson was strong in the medical field, but there have been some surprises. First, the University of Arizona not only trains doctors and nurses, they have some of the best professors and scientists in the nation. Those professionals not only fight sickness and disease, they are constantly looking for cures.

Second, every day in the region there are brilliant men and women looking for a creating medicine and medical devices that save lives and make lives easier. I really had no idea how strong the biopharmaceutical and medical device fields were in Tucson. There have been dozens of things created here that are now being used around the globe to save lives.

Did you know the first, and apparently still best, artificial heart was made in Tucson. This heart can replace a human heart and keep someone alive until a real donor heart is found. Think about that. For generations, without a donor human heart, people have died. There is now hope because of the work done in Tucson.

That’s pretty cool to me.

I believe the United States has the best health care system in the world, and some of the best doctors, nurses and medical professionals make Tucson their home.

So tonight some of the best doctors, nurses and medical professionals in Tucson will be honored for their work. Next week, we will have a story and photos talking about those who won.

Until then, we can all rest assured that if an emergency strikes and we need life-saving medical care, some of the best in the medical industry make their homes right here in Tucson. 

(1) comment


Mr. Rupkalvis, we in the U.S. do not have the best health care system in the world by any meaningful measure. The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in the world in 2010.

We do, however, have the most expensive health care system in the world.

Sadly, however, this 2014 study, again, shows that our system ranks poorly in terms of access, efficiency, and equity.


I find your opinion pieces incredibly simplistic, naive, and incredibly poorly researched. This level of simplicity may have worked for you in N.D., but it's not going to cut it in the regions served by the Explorer where the residents are, in general, better educated. You need to step up your game.

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