I jumped at the opportunity to meet Dr. John Keating because he’s an anesthesiologist, and I have an intense fear of anesthesia. I immediately share my phobia with him as we walk through Sansum Clinic’s new Foothill Surgery Center, where he is medical director, but he tells me I’m not alone. “People are afraid of losing control,” says Dr. Keating with an easygoing smile, his genuine, caring demeanor putting me totally at ease.
In his practice, he makes a point of showing his patients the anesthesia equipment, answering their questions, and demystifying the experience. It’s important to be honest and personable, he says, and he’s careful that his patients don’t really notice the mask being placed on or removed.
Dr. Keating helped design the Foothill Surgery Center, an outpatient facility offering surgical care that’s more affordable and convenient than overnight hospital stays. He’s extremely proud of a machine inside the center that makes pure air, and of “The Wave,” an electronic, easily accessible health record system that provides complete documentation of the care patients receive.
He earned his medical degree from Georgetown School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. and completed his anesthesiology residency at the Naval Hospital in San Diego. Before joining Sansum, he was at the Anesthesia Medical Group of Santa Barbara, where he acted as practice manager for the past 10 years, and also formerly served as medical director of outpatient surgery at Cottage Hospital. During his spare time, Dr. Keating enjoys fishing, gardening, and ballroom dancing with his wife, Teri.
Here, Dr. Keating answers the Proust Questionnaire.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“You are just waking up. Everything went well.”
What is your most marked characteristic?
Optimism. “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
What is the quality you most like in people?
An attitude of gratitude. We are so blessed and fortunate to be alive today in this country. Unfortunately, some people don’t appreciate their good fortune and take it for granted.
What do you like most about your job?
I love having the opportunity to help patients through a stressful surgical experience, and make it as comfortable and enjoyable an experience as possible. Patients are fascinating and inspiring and have so many life experiences to share.
Who do you most admire?
George Washington. After achieving victory over the British, he resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army rather than seizing power, and stepped down voluntarily after two terms as the first president. He always placed our country first over his own personal gain. It would be nice to see more politicians do the same.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Heaven, where there will be no more pain or tears.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing someone I love.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My annual 15-day tuna fishing trip with a friend. I caught my first 200-plus pound yellowfin tuna on my last trip.
What is your current state of mind?
I feel blessed and grateful to be alive.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Negativity. Our attitude has a tremendous effect on our enjoyment of life. I have read that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.
What do you most value in friends?
Honesty. A good friend tells you the truth, not what they think you want to hear.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to sing. Many of our staff at the surgicenter sing in the morning and at the end of the day. I think singing works better than caffeine to energize you.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to be better at using humor to make people feel more at ease or to defuse a stressful situation.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Obtaining an education, as the first in my family to attend college, and paying for it myself with scholarships and loans.
What is your most treasured possession?
Time spent with my wife, Teri, and my family.
Where would you most like to live?
In our house here in Santa Barbara. We have an orchard and a tower garden and grow much of our own food.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My wife, Teri, and our toy poodle, Samson. They make everyone laugh.
What is your motto?
Make the most of what is. It doesn’t help focusing on what was or what could have been.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
C.S. Lewis. I have always identified with his writings and his thoughts on life.
On what occasion do you lie?
I always lie down when I go to bed.