Dr. Louis Portera


Within a year, I've lost my Dad, my brother and now a friend and mentor, Dr Louis Portera - so pardon me if I 'yammer' on. What's it all about anyway? The question has been pondered and posed by philosophers, theologians and the like for centuries. So I'm not so certain that we will know the answer. In the interim, there is no law that says we can't 'make up' our own answers as we go along... Take Edward "Bruce" Merritt's obituary... It seems as though the writer (and quite possibly Bruce himself ) had a real grasp on things. Reading it not only made me laugh, but it also gave me an appreciation for who Bruce was and how much he meant to his sisters, the nation, his wives, children, grandchildren and friends. Yesterday, I learned that Dr Louis Portera (Lou) a man who positively impacted my life as a nurse and human being, died. I reflected on how much he meant to his family, the nurses, doctors, techs, firemen, paramedics, police officers, office staff and most importantly, the E.R. patients. But he was so much more than just an E.R. Doc. Initially, Lou was somewhat distant to new ER employees but he always remained professional. It was his very own "probationary period". No one 'failed' probation, it just gave him a 'feel' for your level of skill, decision making and temperament. When Lou's 'probation' had ended, you knew it - as you were invited into his world and that of his family. It was an honour. His wife, Becky was the light of his life. An avid reader and decorator, Becky was featured in a local decorating magazine - you would have thought she had won the Nobel Prize. When his eldest daughter, Lauren was accepted into The Rhode Island School of Design and married...he was so proud. There was a time when Lou didn't have a lot of good things to say about lawyers, but when Joseph, his son became one, he beamed. He got a kick out of telling the story of a teenaged Cameron, his youngest daughter refusing to be seen riding in his new Mazda Miata . The times I saw Lou become a little teary-eyed was when he learned of his brother's promotion at a university and when he spoke of his grandchildren. As an ER Doc, he was the best. I can confidently say that I never saw him sweat. Always professional, grounded and consistent. I loved that about Lou. Never heard a curse from him, no tantrums or grandstanding.

In the few short days before his passing - the ER Family communicated largely by a social network site and we were able to remember some good times with Lou...

  • Our system to assign ER docs was simple. We had two ER Doctors. If the Medical Record number ended in an even number - the patient would be assigned to the "Even" doc. If the MR number ended in an odd number, then Lou would get the patient as he was always the"Odd"doc. It fit and he liked it.
  • According to Lou... "An Admission = number of allergies + number of complaints x number of miles one lives from the hospital. Anything over 500 = Admit" - Caveat; "Add 200 points to the final total for a positive suitcase sign"
  • According to Lou..."Squirrelly-ness is directly proportional to the number of rings one wears on ones hands"
  • According to Lou..."Rule Out MI (myocardial infarction) on any IDDM (insulin-dependant diabetic) with vague 'don't feel so good' complaint"
  • Lou loved to play. One of our E.R. docs (Colletta) was a little obsessive-compulsive and required order. When Colletta was away from his desk, Lou would tangle up the phone cords and mess up the papers on his desk just to watch him put everything back.
  • Upon entering a patient's room, Lou would clasp his hands together, peer over his bifocals and say, "So, tell me your troubles today."
  • Most entries were of how much Lou meant to everyone, how he honoured us all with his sincere interest and observations but also with his gentle criticisms.
Although Lou may not have been as 'salty' as Edward "Bruce" Merritt - he was a character in his own right and we all loved him for his knowledge, integrity and skill. A great role model to us all both personally and professionally and for that I consider myself lucky to have known him. So, is that what it's all about? Louis Portera MD

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Allen said...

Dr. Portera (no matter how long I knew him, I never could call him Lou) was the quintessential essence of medicine, humanity and southern gentleman.

Lara said...

Hi Joan,

I hope you remember me. We worked together in the ED for several years then I left in 2004 to be a travel nurse. I just saw you on facebook as well so I will send you a friend request. I hope all is well with you considering......your recent post.

I also want you to know that this post about Dr. P was such a joy to read and I am so glad I found it. You did a wonderful job describing the man that he was. I remember that probationary period of his but was fortunate not to have to go through it. I recently posted on Traci's FB page that I think it was because we were both from MS and as soon as he found out I was and that I had also graduated from Ole Miss, we were instant buds. It was almost like a Father-Daughter relationship though and I will forever be grateful for that since I had no family in Dallas. Wow, he taught me so much as a new nurse and beyond.

If you get a chance, I would love for you to stop by our family blog.

Again, great to find you and your blog. Take care!

Lara (Rainey) Simpkins

Constance Cash said...

Dr. Portera was a great man and will be greatly missed. The time that I worked with him, he was always so kind and pleasant no matter what position you helded in the ER. My prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Constance Cash

Carin Courtney said...

I had the honor of working with the “old ER crew” back when the ER was a little less hectic, and the only divisions were the blue and red teams. Dr. P was someone I respected and looked up to from day one. It did not matter what role you had in the ER, whether it be a technician, nurse or fellow MD, he treated us all with dignity and respect. I have many memories of Dr P, most bring a smile to my face, but one in particular still touches my heart. At the time, my son Logan was 2 and had been sick with the flu. On this particular day, my son took a turn for the worse and I brought him to BUMC. Dr Portera had just ended his shift and was headed out the door with his cup of coffee , that is, until he saw Logan on my shoulder. He immediately turned around, put his stuff down and brought Logan into room 10B. Within the hour, Dr P had Children’s critical-care team transporting my son to Children’s Hospital. He ended up hospitalized for 8 days with bilateral pneumonia and bilateral pleural effusions. Dr P always took the time to care for his family at home, and also his ER family. On a happier note, I will always remember Dr P driving up in the ambulance bay in the morning with his boxes of donuts and pigs-in-a blanket for the entire staff! He always started his shift with a trip to the bakery! Those are one of the many happy memories I have of him. Dr P was a mentor, a role-model, a gentleman, and one of the most respected doctors I have ever had the honor of working with. He will be dearly missed, but will forever hold a place in the hearts and memories of those whose lives he touched. Thank you for all the joy you brought us over the years Dr. P. We love and miss you, but you will never be forgotten. Carin Courtney

Unknown said...

Having lost my father previous to working with Lou, I natyrally saw him as not only a mentor and excellent human being, but somewhat of a surreogate father; back in the day, me Perry, Cindy, Kim,Lisa,Kathy, Cathy, Steve, Rusty, Darrel, Joan and et al. relied heavily on Lou, Steve, daighton, Bill and Mark to make our professional lives bearable; I know that Lou joins albert up in heaven laughing and telling war stories. I will miss Lou, I am who I am because of a nurse named Joan and a Dr. named Lou.

Anonymous said...

roger da cajun i had the honor to work with dr. p. i am from loisiana and he was from mississippi and he sure like to pick on me.one year for christmas he had gave me a jar of picled pig ips. he was so excited to give it to me. we had a great laugh over it.he was the best dang dr. i ever worked under.he was a ture southern gentleman,theres not enough words to say about this fine man. my heart goes out to his family.it has been years since i have shed a tear but tonight i cried fro this man. i loved him for who he was and what he was.A TRUE BLUE MAN WITH A HEART OF GOLD.MAY HE WALK ON GODS GOLDEN STREETS FOR EVER.PEACE BE WITH YOU MY FRIEND I WILL ALLWAYS THINK OF YOU WITH A JOY IN MY HEART AND A TEAR IN MY EYE.

melissa said...

whenever i miss my father i google his name and see how his obit has touched someone's life or given a smile. condolances go to you on your lost friend. enjoyed reading your blog.--m

joanyspot said...

Thank you Melissa, You did a great job writing your Dad's obit. I got alot out of it and I would have liked to have known him.