'Retired' doctor keeps serving his community

JILL ARMENTROUT
THE SAGINAW NEWS
http://www.mlive.com

Dr. Robert L. Vitu of Saginaw Township is officially retired but sometimes, it’s hard to tell.

Vitu earned a 2007 Michigan State Medical Society Community Service Award in recognition of his volunteer work at a free health clinic in Saginaw.

A family physician who spent 50 years serving patients, Vitu, 78, now serves monthly at the Healthy Futures Naseau Clinic at the Hunger Solution Center in Saginaw. The clinic serves uninsured people in Saginaw County.

“Dr. Vitu is an exemplary role model of a retired physician giving back to the community,” said Lisa Hadden, director of Healthy Futures, a collaboration that operates several free health clinics in the county.

Vitu has worked with the agency for three years and fills in for other doctors when they can’t make a shift,

Hadden said. Doctors work from a small treatment room at the Hunger Solution Center. Other clinic locations also provide spaces, eliminating the need for the agency’s mobile unit.

“He provides medical care for people who otherwise would not be able to afford it,” Hadden said. “He is a gentle, kind soul who loves his volunteer work, and we are very grateful for his

participation. He deserves to be

recognized for his contribution to the well-being of the community.”

Vitu also continues to teach family practice residents at Saginaw’s Synergy Medical Education Alliance, having spent more than 20 years as a clinical professor. He retired from his physician practice in 1994.

He said his volunteer work is “very stimulating and challenging” and he doesn’t plan to give it up until it isn’t fun anymore.

He also is proud of the 2002 medical mission trip he took to serve impoverished residents of Haiti.

“I wish I had started that years earlier, because I’d like to do it again, but my health won’t allow it now.”

Vitu was Michigan Family

Physician of the Year in 1981, while Good Housekeeping Magazine

nominated him for American Family Physician of the Year in 1982. He was president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

He also received the 2003 Spirit of Saint Vincent Award from the St. Mary’s Foundation in honor of his career with St. Mary’s of Michigan hospital, where he was chief of the medical staff and the family practice department. He also served on the staffs of St. Luke’s Hospital and Saginaw General Hospital (now combined as Covenant HealthCare). v
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