For nearly half a century, Dr. Louis Novak practiced old-fashioned medicine, making house calls to patients in Hollywood until last year.
But what many patients didn’t know is that Dr. Novak, a respected internist who was among the founding staff members at Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, literally played his way through college, medical school and then a medical residency.
Before becoming a doctor, Dr. Novak was a professional drummer who performed at the White House 22 times with several well-known society orchestras, including the Vaughn Monroe and Myer Davis orchestras, during the 1930s and 1940s.
Dr. Novak died on Monday after a brief illness. He was 82.
Dr. Novak was one of eight doctors who made up the staff when Memorial Hospital opened on Feb. 16, 1953, at 3501 Johnson St. At the time, the hospital’s budget was $513,000 and admitted 2,884 patients its first year, hospital records show.
Today, the hospital handles 10 times that number of patients each year.
“I had no idea it [the hospital) would reach the stage it has reached here,” Dr. Novak said in 1988. “It was a young hospital. Naturally, it was nice, but nowhere near as modern as it is now.”
Dr. Novak was a dedicated physician who took pride in helping others, friends and family members said.
“You could call him up at 2 a.m. … and he’d come,” said his brother, Paul Novak, of Hallandale.
“Dr. Novak was selflessly dedicated to the care of his patients and to promoting the education of young people,” said Dr. Morton Diamond, the former chief of staff at Memorial Hospital. “He was an exemplar of old-fashioned medicine, still making house calls at age 82.”
Still, Dr. Novak never completely abandoned his lifelong affection for music. While growing up in Boston, Dr. Novak would bang on the kitchen table with two knives at age 5, Paul Novak said.
At age 8, he studied the violin for several years and excelled, but returned to the drums.
“That was his first love,” Paul Novak said. “Whenever he went to the medical conventions, his big kick was to sit in with the orchestra and play the drums.”
Dr. Novak attended Boston Latin School and graduated from Brown University in 1936. He received his medical degree in 1940 from Hahnemann Medical School in Pennsylvania. He also earned a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina.
In addition to his brother, Paul, Dr. Novak is survived by a sister, Mathilda Coan, of Deerfield Beach; and another brother, Robert Novack, of Surfside.
Funeral will be at noon Thursday at Levitt-Weinstein Chapel, 1920 Pembroke Road.
(Original article appeared on the Sun Sentinel on May 17, 1994. Written by MARY C. WILLIAMS Staff Writer)