As a Cleveland-based private practice internist, Ronald Golovan, M.D., (’89) has spent 22 years treating professional baseball players, musicians, actors, and corporate executives. However, he is quick to point out that some of the most satisfying moments of his career have come from his involvement in the health care of his more typical internal medicine patients.
“I won’t lie. Taking care of professional athletes and musicians is great, but I still love going to work every day and seeing my regular office patients,” said Golovan, who received the 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award from the Wright State University Alumni association.
It all started with a cold call.
“It was 1991, and I was just about to start the last year of my medicine residency,” he said. “Because I was interested in baseball and sports related medicine, I called the Indians just to ask about spending time with their medical staff.”
That’s when Golovan was introduced to Dr. William Wilder, the longtime team physician for the Cleveland Indians. The two met for dinner and immediately hit it off. Wilder invited Golovan to join his private practice at Lutheran Hospital where Golovan continues to see patients and today serves as vice president of medical operations.
Alumnus Ronald Golovan serves as team physician for the Cleveland Indians, cares for entertainers appearing at the House of Blues, Blossom Music Center, and other Cleveland venues, serves as medical director for a corporate wellness firm, and sees patients in his private practice.
Upon Wilder’s retirement in 2000, Golovan assumed the role of head team internist for the Indians. While he doesn’t have to be at every game, Golovan spends a lot of time at the ballpark. He typically arrives one hour before the game to address any medical issue. He also sees players from the opposing team.
Golovan explains that the baseball season actually begins in February. “I spend six weeks with the team in spring training,” he said. “It’s not easy to be away from home for that long, but it is a great time to get to know the players and for them to get to know me.”
Throughout the course of a long season, Golovan credits his very understanding family. “My kids grew up with baseball,” said Golovan, who has great memories of being at the ballpark with his wife, Lisa, and their four children, Samantha, Chase, Isabelle, and Eric.
Golovan also serves as the medical director for Be Well Solutions, a privately owned corporate wellness company. He helps companies formulate programs to keep their employees healthy and to identify those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.
In the changing world of economics and health care, work site wellness programs are becoming more and more important. “In the simplest of terms, healthy employees are less expensive than unhealthy employees,” he said, noting that healthy employees are happier in general and are on the job more, thus incurring less sick time.
By spreading the same message to his corporate clients as he does to his own patients, Golovan is able to persuade a wider audience of the benefits of health promotion and disease prevention. He admits that the advice is not too complicated.
“Take care of yourself. Eat right and exercise regularly,” said Golovan who also served on the board of directors of the Cleveland Academy of Medicine and currently holds a teaching position with the Fairview Hospital Internal Medicine Residency Program.
When he is not busy with his internal medicine practice, the Cleveland Indians, or Be Well Solutions, Golovan can be found treating entertainers at Playhouse Square or backstage providing care for the musicians at the House of Blues, Quicken Loans Arena, or Blossom Music Center. “I am a musician at heart,” he said.
He points out that caring for athletes and entertainers requires many of the same skills. Often time constraints and travel schedules need to be considered. A concert tour may only be in town for a matter of hours so there is not much time to waste if a performer is ill and requires the doctor’s care. This means that Golovan must be ready and willing to accommodate. It is not unusual for him to meet with the performers prior to the show or sometimes after.
“I have had my share of late nights, but I am not complaining. I love being part of the show and I have met some really great people along the way,” he said.
Golovan’s generosity and spirit are evident in his willingness to give back to the Boonshoft School of Medicine. He is a steadfast supporter of the Match Day celebration.
He recalled his own experience. “I was involved in planning our Match Day party, and I remember wishing that we had a little more money to pay for some of the expenses,” he said. With this in mind, he has donated to the Match Day fund since his graduation in 1989.
“I know how hard the students have worked,” he said. “They’ve earned a celebration and shouldn’t have to scratch to find the money to pay for it.”
Whether it is backstage, in the office, at the ballpark, or in the boardroom, Golovan remains grateful to the Boonshoft School of Medicine for providing the strong foundation on which he has based his career. “I am truly fortunate. I have the greatest job in the world.” VS