Some folks just have big personalities.
And in the case of Dr. Fru Bahiraei, a big personality was important to have, because he’s had to fill a big void.
Dr. Fru arrived in Mammoth this past January to help fill the space left by the sudden, shocking, ignominious and tragic exit of Dr. Andrew Bourne.
Fru is a living, breathing cultural cornucopia. Born in Teheran, his family moved to the United States in 1978 four months before the overthrow of the Shah.
Of all places, they settled in Nashville, where Fru says he quickly assimilated into redneck-ness. “I was possibly the biggest one of all,” he laughs.
His credentials include a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and a medical degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
He then did his residency in … Seattle, of course. He spent six years in Seattle and three years in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.
How did he get here? One of his old attending (a doctor who trains others) physicians, Dr. Richard Koehler, asked him to come down to Mammoth and look at a job.
Both doctors now work at Mammoth Hospital.
Fru is a board-certified general surgeon. He doesn’t do bypasses, grafts or transplants. He does see a lot of chest trauma. According to the Mammoth Hospital website: “Dr. Bahiraei specializes in general surgical, vascular, thoracic, trauma and endoscopic services.”
Fru was named Resident of the Year in 2009 at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.
Koehler, according to Mammoth Hospital’s website, “specializes in general and thoracic surgery with expertise in cancer surgery and minimally invasive surgical techniques.”
If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Fru, you may get a good look at him this Saturday night – if you happen to attend Mammoth hospital’s “Dancing with the Docs” fundraiser at MMSA’s Canyon Lodge.
Fru is paired with local “celebrity” Jenn Collins. Their choreographer is Sabrina Nioche, who not only owns Le Centre Dance Studio in Mammoth, but is married to me – which is why this team gets more ink than the others this week! (see the rest of the team profiles by clicking here).
Life’s not fair.
But before we get into questions about the competition, a little more about Fru.
Both he and his wife Emily are outdoors-types and like the feel of a small town – the closeness one can build with friends and co-workers. “Good health-care involves knowing the names of the people you work with,” he says, “and it’s nice to be able to check on patients’ wounds when you’re standing in line at Vons or the movies to see how they’re healing,” he says with a smile.
The story of how he met his wife Emily is quite romantic. “We met over a set of gangrenous toes in vascular clinic,” he says. (Emily works as an ultra-sonographer). “Her beauty overpowered the stench.”
Sheet: If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be doing?
Fru (instantly): Motorcycle mechanic. I’ve always loved to fix things with my hands, I love to ride and this is definitely the best place I’ve ever lived for riding.
Sheet: What is your favorite aspect of what you do?
Fru: There’s no greater privilege than to meet someone for ten minutes … and then they trust you with their lives. You may not trust a hitchhiker or a traveling salesman knocking at your door, but being a doctor is different.
Fru’s dance partner Jenn Collins has lived in Mammoth Lakes for the better part of 15 years. She has an extensive background in dance, acting and film production.
She most recently appeared onstage in this past spring’s Mammoth Lakes Repertory production of “The Miracle Worker.”
Like most people in Mammoth, she makes ends meet by working several jobs: she’s a personal trainer, owns her own housecleaning and property management business, moonlights for various caterers in town and teaches figure skating during the winter months.
When I asked what brought them together, Fru answered “Fate.”
When I asked what fate’s last name was, Collins didn’t miss a beat. “Ciccarelli.” As many of you know, Mammoth Hospital’s Lori Ciccarelli has organized both “Dancing” fundraisers.
Sheet: So Jenn, what makes you a local celebrity?
Collins: I have no clue. Was it that recent cover shot on MILFs Incorporated?
I then asked Fru how he thought his team would do in the dancing competition. Silly question. “Well … I have the best partner, the best choreographer [Sabrina Nioche] … and I’m the best dancer,” he said with the modesty of Burt Wonderstone (see poster at right, where the faces of dancers and choreographer have been superimposed onto a Wonderstone photo). “So obviously, we should win.” The delivery was deadpan. Was he serious? He couldn’t be serious, could he?
“I’d like to thank all the dancers and choreographers [participating this year] and all those not even affiliated with the hospital for their gift of time … but no good deed goes unpunished. We’re gonna run all those other teams into the ground.”
Spoken like a true redneck.
Paul Rudder on MRF
The following is a transcript of what Paul Rudder said at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting. Rudder talked about the many closed session meetings Council has had regarding the potential purchase of the firewood parcel in the Industrial Park. The parcel would be acquired so Mammoth Disposal could construct a Materials Recycling Facility.
“We have the issue of a recycling facility coming up, which involves the potential of a 30-year contract. That’ll be a contract that will live on perhaps beyond the lifespan of some of us here this evening; certainly myself. I’m hoping the Council will consider appointing a commission to look at that: people who have an interest in it; environmental people; business people and so forth, because although there will be some benefits for the Town government as an economic entity, there will be burdens to be paid by the members of the community.
With that in mind, it seems to me that the best result can be accomplished by a great deal of transparency, and by having appropriate people take a hard look at this thing. Right now, the discussion has largely been at the staff level, and at the Council level … it seems like before that final decision is made, a commission could look at it from the perspective of the people who will be dealing with the cost of that on into the future over the next 30 years.”
Sierra Classic Theater Murder Mystery Auditions, September 24 at 6 p.m. in the Edison Theater. For information, call Mike at 760-914-1632.