Excerpt from “Risky Business”
by Dan Oko | Houston Modern Luxury magazine | April 3, 2012
“…physician Edward Rensimer, a medical-mystery-solving version of TV’s Dr. House…
…His dominion …the laboratories and exam rooms of his International Medicine Center at the Memorial City Medical Center, here in Houston.
Rensimer, previously the Memorial Hermann chief of staff, is H-Town’s answer to Dr. Gregory House, who solves medical mysteries on Fox’s House. “The difference is I’m not a drug addict,” says Rensimer, who is nonetheless a superstar in the world of infectious diseases.
The 62-year-old first launched his practice in 1981, with his wife Jane, who manages the IMC while the doctor sees patients. His expertise is hard-won, having earlier in his career traveled the globe assessing medical facilities in out-of-the-way countries, setting up ship infirmaries, writing reports on snakes in Chad, and consulting in rural Venezuela in the pre-Chavez era. “When things go wrong in these places,” he says grimly, “they go bad very quickly.”
In ’05, Rensimer was the first in Houston to diagnose leishmaniasis, a skin infection borne by sand fleas, in civilian contractors and American soldiers freshly returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight patients arrived at his clinic, all fresh back from the Middle East, all complaining about painful blistering sores that refused to heal. The suppurating condition confounded other doctors, but thanks to Rensimer’s long experience in travel medicine, he soon narrowed the possible culprits and devised not just a treatment but also a program for prevention.
Patients include business and leisure travelers, from roughnecks to CEOs, headed to varied destinations, from offshore rigs in Southeast Asia to resorts in Cancun. Recent cases included calls to airlift a collapsed U.S. worker in Cairo to a heart hospital in Tel Aviv, hospitalizing a Houston couple that returned from India with typhoid fever, and long-distance treatment of a pregnant woman with malaria in Mexico.
All this happens in the state-of-the-art, fifth-floor IMC, which overlooks the Energy Corridor, where clients such as Schlumberger and ExxonMobile are also based. In fact, all the big energy companies come to the clinic to clear workers and treat the aftermath of trips to foreign and mysterious lands. “What we do here is unique,” says Rensimer, “and that has become a calling card.”
It’s interesting, exotic work, born of real-deal life-and-death drama—and, for some, just another day at the office.”