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OBIT: Dr. A. Richard Grossman, Founder of Burn Centers

It all started with two beds in a small Sherman Oaks hospital in 1969.

Dr. Richard Grossman, who founded his burn centers, starting in Sherman Oaks, died today. Patch file photo.
Dr. Richard Grossman, who founded his burn centers, starting in Sherman Oaks, died today. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 3:45 p.m. March 14, 2014. Updated with new information.

Dr. A. Richard Grossman, whose experience with a horrific school fire as a young medical resident forged a lifelong dedication to treating burn victims, has died, his office announced today.

Grossman, 81, convinced a small hospital in Sherman Oaks to set aside two beds for burn patients in 1969, which evolved into the Grossman Burn Center, an internationally known facility for treatment of people with grievous burns.

His center treated dozens of firefighters, celebrities like Richard Pryor, and adults and children burned in accidents.

But Grossman's efforts may have meant the most to Los Angeles firefighters, who saw his work firsthand for the "countless firefighters who suffered burns in the course of carrying out their duties," according to a city fire department statement.

"Dr. Grossman was a tremendous friend, supporter and caregiver to the members of the LAFD," according to the department. "Dr. Grossman's commitment to his patients and the community will be his legacy, and appreciated by all who will benefit from his services and care at his namesake burn centers in the future."

In 1958, Grossman was a resident in training at a Chicago emergency room when the Our Lady of Angels parochial school caught fire. The blaze killed 93 children and four nuns, and the young doctor was hit hard.

"The experience had a profound effect on Dr. Grossman, and was a driving force behind his vision to create a world-class comprehensive burn treatment facility dedicated to providing the best burn care anywhere," according to a biography on the center's website.

Grossman strived to "not to just ensure survival, but to restore patients to as close to their pre-injury condition as possible, functionally, emotionally and cosmetically," according to his biography.

His office was one of the first to use a hyperbaric chamber to put fire victims in pressurized vessels, to help fight infection and preserve blood pressure levels.

By 1978, the Grossman Burn Center had expanded to 30 beds in a freestanding building at the Sherman Oaks Medical Center. In 2010, it went independent and set up Grossman Burn Centers in West Hills as well as Bakersfield, Kansas City and Phoenix.

He was president of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons for eight years, wrote or co-wrote 35 professional articles, and contributed to six medical textbooks.

In recent years, Grossman extended his passion for burn survivors by hosting an annual "Family Camp" for former patients and staff. He has also hosted a summer camp for children with burns at his ranch in Thousand Oaks.

Among survivors are his wife, Elizabeth Rice Grossman, and his son, Dr. Peter H. Grossman, who now heads the Grossman Burn Centers. He is also survived by stepson John W. Larson and five grandchildren.

Grossman died peacefully of natural causes at his home in Thousand Oaks Thursday, his family said. No services have been announced.

--City News Service

Irene DeBlasio March 14, 2014 at 07:47 PM
This is such tragic news for mankind. Dr. Grossman probably saved more lives than any world leader could ever hope to. He was a hero and should have been a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. When my family and I moved to Southern California in 1971 the only local hospital taking emergency patients was Sherman Oaks Hospital. He patched me up once for a minor burn. His incredible lifelong work ought to be recognized and celebrated by neighbors, by the state of California and by the federal government. He was an outstanding humanitarian and a wonderful man. Dear Dr. Grossman, rest in peace. My very deepest sympathy to Mrs. Elizabeth Grossman and son, Dr. Peter Grossman who will carry on in his name. Blessings and hugs to you both. It's a stunning loss.
Penny Arévalo March 14, 2014 at 08:03 PM
What a wonderful tribute you wrote. Hugs to YOU.


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