Chris Arth – Caring for Truckee’s Kids
October 20, 2005
It would take Dr. Chris Arth 19 years after delivering his future-wife’s first child to ask her out on a date.
Christine Miller was enjoying a meal with Susie Englesby at OB’s restaurant in 2000 when local pediatrician Christopher Arth passed by and said hello.
Dr. Arth had been the only pediatrician in town 20 years ago when Christine and her first husband were preparing for the arrival of their baby. As such, he was present at the birth of baby Mike and remained Mike’s physician, and that of Mike’s younger brother, well into the boys’ youth. Christine, had always valued and respected the doctor for his knowledge and gentle manner, but their relationship had been strictly medical.
But that day at OB’s a newly-single Christine turned to her friend and said, “That is one man I would love to have a date with; If there was one man in Truckee, it would be him.” And Susie asked, “Can I quote you on that?”
And she did”directly to Dr. Arth, who responded by marrying her on the lake and thereby confusing Truckee with two Chris Arths.
Dr. Arth, who now claims to be the “less-famous Chris Arth,” first came to Tahoe to go skiing one weekend during medical school at UC Davis. He returned to accept a part time position assisting the only pediatrician in the north lake basin. Four years later, in 1974, it was Arth who stood as the lone practitioner.
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In the 20 years since, the doctor has seen much change in Truckee, not just in the demographic and the number of bodies, but in the health of Truckee’s kids.
“The medical issues facing Truckee kids have changed somewhat over the years,” he says. “There is a little less in the way of acute illness, like meningitis, but more in the way of school and psychologic issues, like ADD, and stress-related illnesses.”
And he’s seen more than that in 10 years as a 5th grade sex education teacher, most of which isn’t fit to print, but all of which is wildly entertaining.
Dr. Arth didn’t even decide to go to medical school until his senior year at Stanford, but said he made the pediatric decision because of the freshness and untainted viewpoints that children have, and the fact that they heal so well and tend not to have such complex medical problems.
“I’m not sure there is a better feeling professionally than being involved in saving a life, especially one with so much of a future. I was lucky to find a field that allowed me to use my mind but still have license to act like a child, and I truly enjoy the interaction between parents and kids,” he says. “And what really makes my day is feeling that you can make an impact on somebody’s life and feel like in the long run that I have done something good to help prevent illness, and pain, and suffering.”
He says he doesn’t mind when people stop him in the grocery store to ask medical questions, because he understands how much those unknowns can bother people. And besides that, he says he views that interaction as a positive way to get to know his families and patients very well, allowing for both personal and professional relationships.
“I like to think that being a local is not only living here and doing your work in the area, but also putting something pack into the community. So I feel I am part of the community by virtue of trying to take care of the children, and by doing educational work in the schools,” Dr. Arth says.
And it is that intimacy and close interaction that have kept Dr. Arth in Truckee. He can practice the way he wants to, which for him means not having to wear a lab-coat.
“Being a small town and being somewhat isolated, you get to keep some of your skills up by being able to handle some of the more intense situations. Hospitals in larger towns have more specialty people, but we have to take care of everything ourselves here. I would say that our hospital is a community treasure. Most of the staff is way over-trained, but choose to stay for the lifestyle. And I am proud of basically establishing pediatrics as a specialty in Truckee as others have come and gone.”