By Sean Batura at the Kerrville Daily Times, Dec. 23, 2020
Prayers flooded Facebook earlier this month after word spread that a beloved local doctor was hospitalized in San Antonio with COVID-19.
But on Dec. 19, Dr. Anand Mehendale succumbed to the coronavirus, leaving behind many former students, colleagues, friends, family and patients — some of whose lives he’d saved over the years.
“Doc was many things to many people,” said Jo Carol Smith, who got to know Mehendale while attending an end-of-life symposium. “He was gifted with intelligence, warmth, compassion and wit. He did so much for the community and cared deeply for those he served.”
Mehendale obtained his medical license in 1982 and was board certified in neurology and addiction medicine. He worked for Peterson Health and in private practice.
He recently became a Hall of Fame Legacy Member of the Texas Super Doctors list. To qualify for this distinction, a doctor must be considered a Super Doctor for at least 10 years. Super Doctors identifies top doctors as selected by their peers and the independent research of MSP Communications.
“He was a brilliant doctor, but most of all, he was a ‘down to earth’ and honest human being,” Smith said. “When visiting him, jokes and funny stories naturally flowed. He energized me. His storytelling ability was truly the best; his humor and timing admirable. If I was having a bad day and visited with him, I always felt better when I left. Most of all, Doc was a loyal advocate when he believed in you. I will miss him dearly.”
His private practice, Phoenix Medical Associates, was aptly named, as Mehendale was a champion of people rising from the ashes of drug addiction, having suffered from chemical dependency for a time. But he prevailed and became an advocate for those — especially doctors — in recovery, even testifying at the State Capitol to help doctors get treatment rather than only punishment.
“(Addiction) didn’t stop him,” Dr. Mark Goldman, a longtime friend and clinical psychologist, said. “I would say it made him a better physician, neurologist and human.”
Mehendale and Goldman wrote articles and gave lectures together on the topic of opioids, chemical dependency and state programs to help prevent and treat drug addiction among doctors. Their next collaboration was to write a book about the opioid-addiction crisis.
In the days when Mehendale was in medical school, the use of opiates was common among busy medical students on internship and residency, and “drug companies would mislead the physicians” by downplaying their addictive potential, Goldman said.
“In order to be able to sleep, we would be able to access easily things like valium and stuff and it was OK,” Goldman said. “Working so many hours and being so revved up, we had to get whatever sleep we could.”
The two men met at the Kerrville State Hospital decades ago, when it still had a chemical dependency unit. Goldman said he was struck by Mehendale’s brilliance and broad medical knowledge.
“He had a very keen interest in psychology and was well versed in it, having read old guys like Freud, Jung, Adler,” Goldman said. “That kind of drew us together, and his knowledge of psychiatry was amazing.”
The men became close friends, and their families took vacations and cruises together.
The two became so close, it felt as if they’d always known each other, Goldman said.
“I don’t have a brother, biologically, but he is my brother, and I will miss him so, so much, I can’t tell you,” Goldman said. “Just wonderful times together, a lot of fun; I’m going to miss all of that.”
Although this wasn’t required by his employer, Mehendale allowed students in health care professions and others to job-shadow him.
“He loved to teach,” Goldman said.
Although Mehendale was from a different cultural background than many in Kerr County, “he fit right in with people,” said Goldman, who himself is a Messianic Jew.
“He fit right in with people because even though he was Hindu, one thing he enjoyed was history and history of religion and philosophy,” Goldman said.
Mehendale leaves behind a wife and three children. His daughter followed in his footsteps as a neurologist. One of his sons inherited his sense of humor and is a stand-up comedian, and another son inherited Mehendale’s polymathic tendencies and has an incredible memory and facility for mathematics.
Among those who expressed grief on social media in the last few days is Robert Ward, who specializes in radiology, neurology and psychiatry in Kerrville. Ward said the news of Mehendale’s passing was “like a punch to the gut.”
“The pain hurts deeply, and you find it hard to breathe,” Ward wrote on Facebook. “Today I lost a wonderful colleague and friend. Dr. Anand Mehendale, M.D. He did so much for me and my family over the past 20 years.”
See the original article: https://dailytimes.com/coronavirus/article_3b62394c-4578-11eb-9eae-0b959c138bff.html