'Just had that magic about him': Revered Halifax doctor Richard Goldbloom dead at 96

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'Just had that magic about him': Revered Halifax doctor Richard Goldbloom dead at 96
Dr. Richard Goldbloom, shown in this file photo, died Thursday. He was 96. (CBC - image credit)
Dr. Richard Goldbloom, shown in this file photo, died Thursday. He was 96. (CBC - image credit)

A retired Halifax doctor is being remembered for his humble nature and how he reshaped pediatric care in Nova Scotia and across the country.

Dr. Richard Goldbloom died Thursday at the age of 96.

Friends and colleagues say Goldbloom had a knack for connecting with everyone, from patients to students he taught at Dalhousie University.

"He just had that magic about him," said Dr. Andrew Lynk, a former student of Goldbloom's.

Goldbloom came to Halifax from Montreal in 1967 to be the physician-in-chief at the new IWK Hospital for Children.

"There was just a tiny pediatric department and he, with his unbelievable charm and optimism, he recruited people and built it so that it was not just a centre of clinical excellence, but an academic centre," said Dr. Sarah Shea.

Listen and observe

This had a profound impact on the medical care children in the Maritimes received, said Lynk.

"These kids didn't have to travel to Boston or Toronto or Montreal anymore," he said. "They could come to Halifax."

Lynk said Goldbloom was a great listener and would stress that pediatricians needed to listen to patients and observe them and their families.

"He always taught us how to search for those hidden anxieties, those feelings of guilt, those feelings of worry that families have, and if you didn't address it … you weren't doing your job as a good physician," he said.

Goldbloom authored the book Pediatric Clinical Skills, which Shea estimates has been used by thousands of medical students.

House calls from a young age

Goldbloom was destined for a career in medicine. As a child, he would follow his father — a pediatrician — around on house calls in Montreal.

"There's a lot of body language and facial language that is so important in evaluating a family and in helping to make life better for them ... the child is the one that is brought to you, but often the child is not the real patient," Goldbloom told CBC News in 2014.

Goldbloom said even at the age of five or so, he'd sign the letters M.D. after his name.

Goldbloom was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and awarded both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.

His wife, noted philanthropist Ruth Goldbloom, died in 2012 at the age of 88. The pair founded the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

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