For Dr. Steven Cusimano, compassion, family and community are at the centre of his practice
By Raman Singh, OMA Public Affairs
The sixth of eight children in an Italian-Canadian family, Cusimano, a family doctor from Stoney Creek, looked up to his older siblings growing up. Two of his older brothers are also physicians – one a neurosurgeon and the other a cardiovascular surgeon.
“When I was in high school, they were in university and medical school. I saw what they were doing and they really inspired my interest in medicine,” he says.
It was the death of his grandfather from a heart attack that cemented his decision to go into medicine. His grandfather was “never sick a day in his life.”
“To see him go from being a healthy man to seeing him in the hospital in the weakened state ignited a flame that is still burning in me to this day to help people in need,” he says.
Caring for a diversity of patients with many different health issues is what attracted Dr. Cusimano to family medicine. For him, it offers a way to help all kinds of patients.
“I really enjoy the continuity of care and diversity. Seeing patients through health, many illnesses and different stages of life,” he says, “It’s very rewarding. When you’ve taken care of someone, you become almost like part of their family or friend. Caring for multiple generations of families is very special.”
In 1993, with a fresh medical license in hand, Dr. Cusimano, his late wife Loreana and then newborn son, Michael, moved from London to the Hamilton area. He’s called it home ever since. His patients and the community’s “close-knit family” feel is what keeps him there.
Dr. Cusimano’s patients are always on his mind.
“There is no time that goes by in a day when you don’t think about your patients. You’re always trying to do the best for them,” he says. “I always tell my patients ‘I would treat you as if I was treating my family.’ Family is so important to me. I care for my patients as if they are my family.”
In addition to Dr. Cusimano’s dedication to his patients, he finds time to give back to the community. In 2003, he lost his wife Loreana to breast cancer, leaving him to care for their five children. In 2007, Michael, their first-born, also passed away from cancer. To honour their memory, he has set up the Loreana and Michael Cusimano Memorial Funds – designed to help youth and the community.
When speaking of Loreana and Michael, he says that “losing them was very difficult, but I try to be like my parents and put every ounce of effort into my family and children.”
The effort that Dr. Cusimano puts into his family, he extends into the community and into patient’s homes where he delivers palliative and end-of-life care. To him, it is important that patients and their families lead a good life, up until their last moments. He often visits patients at their homes in their dying days. He enjoys that it allows him to bond with patients on a deeper level, “you can have a nice simple conversation and really appreciate what life is all about and how precious it is.”
Dr. Cusimano is now happily re-married; he and his wife Karen are embracing the joys of life with their blended family of seven beautiful children.