Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

PALM LATITUDES

CLOSE-UP : Taking It to the Suites

January 30, 1994|Michele Kort

A few years ago, Dr. Michael Oppenheim got a frantic 2 a.m. call from a beachside hotel. Food poisoning? High fever? No, a tipsy woman had asked a waiter to light her cigarette--and her acrylic nails had burst into flame.

Just a typical incident in the casebook of a traveling hotel doc. One of the few in town, Oppenheim gets referrals from about 100 L.A.-area inns--among them the Century Plaza and the Beverly Hilton. He's on 24-hour alert, making about 1,000 suite-calls a year and giving free phone advice to another thousand. He charges a flat $100 for patients within eight miles of his West L.A. home (more if they're farther afield).

In his 10 years as a roving physician, he's seen some heart attacks and lots of flu, earaches and upset stomachs. "I like vomiting," he admits, "because I can help. It doesn't last long anyway, and they always give me credit for stopping it."

Oppenheim's part-time practice leaves him plenty of time for his other occupation--medical writer. He regularly contributes to Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Reader's Digest. He's also written five books, including "The Male Medical Guide" and the upcoming "100 Drugs That Work."

He won't reveal their complaints, but Oppenheim has treated such patients as Leonard Bernstein, Rod Stewart and the King of Tonga.

Many of his clients are visiting L.A. from other countries, with a common diagnosis of their own. "They always think the air conditioner has made them sick," he says. "So it's always 100 degrees in their rooms."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|