The Town of Palm Beach remains unique in terms of the affluence and power of its visitors and permanent residents. Indeed, one-third of the world's wealth is estimated to be represented in person on this island during the winter season!
It has been my pleasure and honor to have doctored
many Palm Beachers for over four decades, a capacity in
which I continue. That experience provides the background
for this authentic account. Its objectivity is underscored by
the fact that my office and home are in West Palm Beach.
Admittedly, the book can be fun reading for persons
interested in Palm Beach society. Just the sequence of
"Palm" and "Beach" often elicits either admiration or hostility. But far more is involved. Peter Ustinov appropriately
stated, "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious."
These observations also offer the reader significant
insights about health, illness, behavior and contemporary
values. Seneca observed: "Whatever can happen to one
man can happen to every man" (Cuivas potest accidere quod
cuiquam potest). My focus is better appreciated when that
"one man" is rich and powerful.
Wealthy and sophisticated individuals here and elsewhere pose a great challenge to physicians and other health
professionals who care for them. They generally have direct
access to outstanding members of the medical profession by
virtue of their philanthropy and personal connections.
Younger colleagues who deal with such persons in their
communities may find some valuable hard-won pearls about "the art of medicine" that are pertinent.
At the outset, let me affirm that the majority of my Palm Beach patients have been cooperative and grateful. Only a few generated the anguish and frustration to be described.
Some remarkable patients are mentioned by name. Most have not been identified, however, for reasons of confidentiality and other professional considerations. But in no instance is there any intent of malice or bias toward an individual (even when deceased) or organizations.
H. J. Roberts, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P.