Dr. Arnold Oper

Dr. Arnold Oper, a beloved medical director and passionate caregiver who worked for more than two decades at Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI), passed away on February 21, 2017.

dr-arnold-operHe was 87.

Dr. Oper worked in the healthcare profession for more than 60 years and his unique approach to healthcare often earned him praise among staff members and patients. He often used humor and kindness to help ease his patients — many of whom had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C or HIV. In addition, he held numerous leadership roles on local and state boards and received accolades and awards for his achievements in medicine.

“Dr. Oper was a top clinician dedicated to the craft of medicine and most importantly to his patients,” said Dr. Saint Anthony Amofah, CHI Chief Medical Officer. “He knew how to use humor to lighten the mood when it was needed most and he had a magnetic personality. Even as his health was deteriorating, Dr. Oper wanted to be at work, it made him feel alive, it gave him purpose, saving lives in a way saved his own life for quite some time.”

CHI’s President and CEO Brodes Hartley Jr. said Dr. Oper was his personal doctor and shared his passion for teaching others. “He was an educator and helped to train the next generation of healthcare professionals,” said Hartley. “The students loved him and he was good at what he did and he will sorely missed by this organization.”

Dr. Oper graduated from the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine in 1957. He completed his residency at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn in 1958. Dr. Oper then served in the United States Air Force Medical Corps as a captain from 1958-1960.

From 1960 to 1984, he built and operated a successful 77-bed general community hospital in Opa Locka. He sold it to the Public Health Trust in 1984.  He was also known as “The Buffalo Doctor.” Back in 1992, he gave up raising buffalo in Dade County after selling his last one to Jane Fonda. One year later, he started working at CHI.

He was soon promoted to director of family medicine.

“Dr. Oper loved what he did. He was more than a boss, he was a father to me,” said Mimi Williams, executive secretary at CHI who worked directly for Dr. Oper. “He cared about his patients and treated those with Hepatitis C and HIV. He loved people and he was an icon.”

In interviews, Dr. Oper often expressed passion for his profession.

“I believe it is important to love what you do for a living,” Dr. Oper often said. “I get up every morning and say, ‘Today is a happy day.’ I enjoy bringing up the spirit of the ones around me.”

When he wasn’t working, Dr. Oper could be found sailing through the Intracoastal Waterways or the Atlantic Ocean.  He loved the open air and often took his staff members with him, so that they could also experience his passion for the sea.

Dr. Oper is survived by his five children and seven grandchildren.

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