Building Rapport with Dr. Stuart Garner Pulmonary

Medicine Presbyterian Pulmonary and Critical Care

Dr. Stuart Garner remembers the last time he tried to light up. It was fifteen years ago. He was at a holiday party and a friend offered him a cigar. Then his son pounced. “Before I could light up, the cigar got snatched out of my mouth,” he says with a smile in his voice. The pulmonary physician gets serious, though, after explaining that lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer. “Avoid all forms of tobacco. It’s the number one thing anyone can do,” he says. “We’re seeing an epidemic of lung cancer, particularly in women. It kills more people than breast, colon, or ovarian cancer combined.”

And while some doctors can come across as stringent, Garner prides himself on compliments on his bedside manner. “It’s all about finding the right rapport with patients,” he says, especially with ones who blame themselves for their conditions. But Garner’s patients are getting more help than ever before thanks to what he calls an explosion of scientific knowledge in the last five years. “We know more about what makes people sick and how to care for them,” he says. “There’s never been an effective early screening for lung cancer that has had any impact on survival,” but quickly adds that the technology is almost there. “We’re using CT scans as navigational programs to help map out the lung and see lesions when they’re smaller,” he says. “That means trying to diagnose tumors at an earlier stage than ever before.” —M. B.Garner sees it all, not only at his practice, but during middle-of-the-night rotations in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. “That’s the scariest part of the job,” he says, remembering a particularly trying situation: “The H1N1 epidemic created a challenge for the staff in the ICU. We were using a special ventilator called an oscillator, which was on shortage nationally due to increased demand related to the epidemic. While appropriate care was provided, there were times when the shortage required us to use alternative options for treatment. We were required to think critically about how to manage the shortage and how to triage patients based on the severity of their conditions.”

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