Jump to content

Dr. Martin Eugene Flipse Jr., medical researcher in lung dis


Recommended Posts

Doctor started, led UM's health center

Dr. Martin Eugene Flipse Jr., medical researcher in lung disease and founder of the University of Miami's Student Health Center, has died.

BY JAWEED KALEEM - jkaleem@MiamiHerald.com

If you ever had the flu or broke a bone while a student at the University of Miami, you have Dr. Martin Eugene Flipse Jr. to thank for your treatment.

Flipse, who died Dec. 14 in Gainesville at 89, founded the university's Student Health Center in 1957, a time when campus health centers were a rarity, and directed it until retirement in 1994.

Before that, Flipse was a medical researcher in lung disease and tuberculosis, a professor at the Miller School of Medicine and head of a private practice.

His academic articles covered topics from ''Spontaneous Rupture of the Esophagus'' to ``Observations in the Treatment of Hypertension with Rice Fruit.''

He spoke in front of the World Health Organization, did pre-revolutionary medical work in Havana and flew to the Soviet Union to share results of oral polio vaccine trials.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992, Flipse, with his bushy white beard and rugged attitude, lived his last years fishing at his Everglades City cabin and traveling with his partner, Virginia Murray.

The cancer, long in remission, ultimately caused his death.

''He was a very private person,'' said daughter Lynn Flipse Lesousky. ``He didn't talk about his accomplishments.''

Flipse was born in Montville, N.J., and attended New York City public schools. Valedictorian at Michigan's Hope College, he joined Harvard Medical School.

He was a resident in infectious disease at Boston City Hospital and in 1948 became a resident in pathology at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

There he met his first wife, Carolyn Robinson Flipse, with whom he adopted two children, including Lesousky.

The couple divorced in 1963.

Caught by the research bug, Flipse left for the Midwest in 1949 to be a doctoral candidate in experimental medicine at the Mayo Medical School. For three years, he studied microbiology, hematology, biochemistry, toxicology and pharmacology but came just short of completing the degree.

Instead, Flipse became a doctor at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. When then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson had a heart attack in 1955, it was Flipse who treated him.

''It was in the first 12 hours after that heart attack that Dr. Flipse stayed with him and kept infusing him with fluids and other treatments that saved his life,'' said Bill Butler, former vice president of student affairs at the University of Miami, whom Flipse reported to as student health director.

In 1956, Flipse joined the Miller School of Medicine, teaching students about lung disease. A year later, his interest in public health budding, the university approached him to open a health center for its growing on-campus population.

''He began it in an apartment building on campus,'' Butler said. ''No X-ray, no lab, no facilities to keep students.'' Within a few years, Flipse persuaded the university to purchase a privately owned apartment building for the center and later got trustees to remodel the facility at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. By the early 1970s, it was a fully functioning, 28-bed hospital.

''When it begin, there were only a few schools doing this. He was a visionary of healthcare,'' Butler said. ``We had all our doctors right there, our lab right there, our X-ray right there. The students would pay a single student health fee along with their tuition.''

In the meantime, Flipse continued to teach medicine as the chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and worked on both county and state health initiatives, including the first large-scale oral polio vaccination effort in the country, which began in Miami-Dade County in 1960. The goal: eradicate the disease among about 500,000 people age 40 and younger.

At the University of Miami, Flipse led an effort to inoculate thousands of students. In the July 1960 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Flipse, quoted from an address before a Soviet audience, called the county-wide project an ``overwhelming success.''

His love life was also again budding. Flipse married another doctor, Loretta Flipse, with whom he had children.

The couple divorced in the late 1970s.

Stretched thin between student health and teaching, Flipse left the medical school in 1971.

In the 1980s, as Miami's drug use and rate of HIV infections became front-page news, Flipse began an aggressive effort to educate students about drugs and sexually transmitted diseases. He encountered the HIV/AIDS crisis head-on when a surge of students requested testing after NBA player Earvin ''Magic'' Johnson announced he had the virus in November 1991. In a Miami Herald article at the time, Flipse said the health center gave a dozen tests a day.

''He had a heck of a good temper. If he liked you, you were in. If he didn't, he could be quite difficult,'' said Mary Diaz, a nurse practitioner at the university. ``But he really cared about the students and the university.''

In addition to Murray and Lesousky, Flipse is survived by daughters Sharon Pederson, of Alachua; Marja F. Robinson and Andra Flipse, of Roswell, Ga.; Callie Flipse, of Belmont, Australia; and son M. Eugene Flipse III, of Miami.

Donations can be made to the Hope College M. Jay '17 and Alice Raap '19 Flipse Scholarship Fund or to the University of Miami Student Health Center.

A memorial service will be held 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at Oak Hammock at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.