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Separation Anxiety

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Goodrich insists he’s not frustrated that staged separations haven’t been universally embraced. The hardest surgeons to convince, he says, are the ones who’ve already done separations, which one can interpret two ways: Their skepticism is wisdom born of experience, or they don’t want to admit that someone else might have a better method.

Goodrich offers the obvious answer when I ask him what the Aguirres have taught him professionally: Staged separations are far superior to the old technique.

When I ask him what he’s learned personally, there’s a pause. “Nothing stands out,” he says. Then, “it’s certainly, obviously kind of the ultimate case for a neurosurgical team.”

I try another tack: What do you hope the Aguirres will say about you one day?

Goodrich laughs a little. “Well, hope they like me, you know.”

He’d laughed the same way when I asked him a couple of months earlier whether it bothered him that Staffenberg was the doctor on Arlene Aguirre’s speed dial, the one she wanted to show up for her boys’ 3rd-birthday party at Blythedale, the one who a Montefiore nurse tells me has a “special heart for those boys.” Neither time did Goodrich seem flustered or embarrassed—the laugh was one of cheerful self-recognition. “What am I going to become, a mensch?” he asked. “I am what I am.”


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