Dr. Jerry Haas has been at LJC helping patients feel comfortable and well cared for before, during, and after surgery for over 25 years.
When Dr. Haas isn’t by patients’ side during surgery, he’s there throughout their weight loss journey to help them safely reach their goals as the director of our medical weight loss program, Signature Skinny Shot.
While serving the Navy on an aircraft carrier as a general medical officer, Dr. Haas’ senior medical officer would always tell him he’d be a great anesthesiologist. He took these words seriously. After two years of serving the Navy, he completed his three-year anesthesia residency, and he’s been keeping patients safe ever since.
Learn more about anesthesia at LJC on our episode Is Anesthesia Dangerous? We Asked Our Anesthesiologist
Monique Ramsey (00:03):
Welcome everyone to The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast. I’m your hostess, Monique Ramsey. Today in the studio I have Dr. Gerald Haas. Jerry Haas, we call him, and he is our board certified anesthesiologist, one of the team that’s been around at La Jolla Cosmetic for many, many years, and he’s also the director of our new weight loss program. We call it the signature Skinny Shot. So welcome Dr. Haas.
Dr. Haas (00:28):
Hey. Thank you, Monique. Good to be here.
Monique Ramsey (00:30):
Good to have you. So where in the process do patients normally meet you?
Dr. Haas (00:38):
So as an anesthesiologist, I would normally meet people in pre-op. They would see me in the operating room, of course, and in recovery room or sometimes out in the clinic when I’m just running around out there figuring out pre-ops and getting people ready for surgery. So that would be the normal areas that I work in kind of all over the place.
Monique Ramsey (01:01):
And then as being the director of our new signature skinny shop program, where will you interact with our patients who are in that program to lose weight?
Dr. Haas (01:12):
So most of the time I’ll be interacting with people via Zoom consult. So after someone has signed up for the program and filled out their history, I’ll be contacting them and then we’ll interface virtually to make a plan.
Monique Ramsey (01:28):
Great. So tell me about your background. What made you decide you wanted to become a doctor, and then maybe what specifically led you to anesthesia?
Dr. Haas (01:38):
Well, I think I first had the idea of becoming a doctor when I was in 10th grade. And at first I sort of thought I was too lofty a goal. I was the first person to go to college in my family, but I got to do that to do my dream. And I ended up going to University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and I was on a Navy scholarship, and I started out in internal medicine. And then during the time that I had to serve for the Navy on an aircraft carrier as a general medical officer during those years, my senior medical officer who was a surgeon, he always would say to me, you would be a really good anesthesiologist. And as I learned more about anesthesia, I really began to think of it as sort of we’re the internist in the operating room and we take care of patients medically while they’re having surgery. And that was appealing to me. And a spot opened up in San Diego, which was my hometown, to do anesthesia training, my anesthesia residency. And here I am all these years later.
Monique Ramsey (02:41):
And I think you’ve been with the surgery center now, how long? Almost 20 years, maybe?
Dr. Haas (02:46):
Over 25 years now.
Monique Ramsey (02:48):
- Oh my gosh. Wow. Yeah. That’s wonderful. And that kind of continuity I think is so nice for our patients because maybe you’ve even gotten to put somebody to sleep twice. They had had surgery 10 years ago, and they come back from something different. So what have you learned in your career about listening to patients?
Dr. Haas (03:08):
I think the biggest thing that comes through when I talk to patients is they have a fear of anesthesia. And we’d have a lot of patients who are young moms, they have children and they want to make sure that they’re safe. And so it’s important that I convey to them that they are safe and they’re going to be well taken care of. And that’s something that can happen over a period of five or 10 minutes. And just getting to know them and explaining the process and just coming across that you’re sincere and caring and that you’re going to do a good job for the patient.
Monique Ramsey (03:45):
Now, when you’re about to put a patient to sleep, that’s not really where it starts. You usually review records weeks ahead, is that right?
Dr. Haas (03:55):
Yeah. So when a patient fills out their history form with the nursing staff that paperwork and lab work and EKGs, if they’re done or needed to be done, we review those. And if there’s a patient that needs additional workup or additional testing, then we interface with the nursing staff in the clinic and go from there. And then we also, of course, interface with the surgeon and make sure they’re in the loop. Also, as a group, we’re just all about safety. I mean, these are elective procedures, so we want them to be safe for people.
Monique Ramsey (04:33):
And what are some of the things that you look at or look for when you’re reviewing somebody’s history that might make you say, maybe I better dig a little deeper?
Dr. Haas (04:43):
Yeah, I mean, probably the most common thing is there’s unfortunately a lot of people walking around with high blood pressure that’s being undertreated or not treated at all. And sometimes we need to get that addressed before they have a procedure. Abnormal lab work can come back some of the time, but we do see a variety of patients here of all different ages and different types of procedures.
Monique Ramsey (05:07):
And in terms of the training that you had to go through to become an anesthesiologist, what does that look like?
Dr. Haas (05:15):
So I got a bachelor’s degree in undergraduate, and then I went to medical school and did my internship at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. And then after my two years of being a general medical officer on an aircraft carrier, then there was three years of anesthesia residency and then passing your boards and all that. And I finished all that in 94. So it’s been a few years.
Monique Ramsey (05:42):
Yeah. Do they make you take extra tests later on to make sure you remember what you’re doing? I know you’re doing it every day, but is it like your driver’s license where every so often you have to go take a refresher?
Dr. Haas (05:53):
Yes. You do have to renew your CMEs and your board certification and that sort of thing. So yes.
Monique Ramsey (06:01):
Have the drugs changed over the years since you started to where we are now in terms of maybe the technology of the machines or the drugs that you use?
Dr. Haas (06:11):
Yeah, it has changed a lot. I mean, when I started giving anesthesia in the early nineties, we were still using sodium penadol and now we have much better drugs, we have better technology, and it just makes it all a lot safer. People wake up more quickly and are able to be discharged more quickly and less nausea. We have better anti-nausea drugs, we have better pain relievers with fewer side effects. So been a lot of progress in really post-op pain management as well, and just helping keep people more comfortable after surgery.
Monique Ramsey (06:49):
Yeah, I think that first time that anybody goes under anesthesia, they have no idea what to expect. And sort of that calming presence of you in the operating room and kind of talking them through what’s happening and then maybe counting backwards or do you have a certain thing that you have people do to help them just sort of drift off?
Dr. Haas (07:11):
I think the circulating nurse and I, we have a certain banter and we try to ask the patient questions about themselves just to get their minds off what’s actually going on. And we just move expeditiously and efficiently. And most people seem really comfortable once they get in there and they see that we’re just working as a team and taking care of them.
Monique Ramsey (07:36):
So now we’re going to kind of segue over to you personally. So you said San Diego was your hometown when you came back here, but did you grow up here in San Diego?
Dr. Haas (07:46):
I did. I was born in San Diego and I grew up in East County, and it was during a time where there was just a lot of freedom as a kid and a lot of open spaces, and your mom just wanted you to be home at dark and didn’t worry. And it was a great place to grow up. It really was.
Monique Ramsey (08:04):
That’s really kind of fun when I keep doing these, meet the doctor interviews and Dr. Reidler and Dr. Briester and you and me. There was a bunch of us, our hometown San Diegans, which is kind of fun.
Dr. Haas (08:16):
Monique Ramsey (08:17):
So what are your passions outside of the office?
Dr. Haas (08:20):
Well, I really, since I’m inside for work so much, I really like being outside as much as possible. So I like to be out in the yard. I like to play tennis, I like to go hiking and just that type of thing, simple things. But I mean, we’re in such a great place and great location to be outdoors, so try to take advantage of that whenever I can.
Monique Ramsey (08:41):
Do you have any pets?
Dr. Haas (08:42):
Monique Ramsey (08:43):
You do. Tell us.
Dr. Haas (08:45):
I have a little rescue I got right before Covid, a little rescue dog from Mexico, and his name is Romeo.
Monique Ramsey (08:53):
Oh, that’s a good name. What kind of dog? Or is he just sort of a mutt?
Dr. Haas (08:59):
I think he’s like a morkey something, but who knows?
Monique Ramsey (09:03):
Sure. That’s cute. My kids, my son and his fiance, actually, they’re getting married next weekend, but they rescued a cat and she was from the main streets of Tijuana. So I’m like, do you have to speak Spanish now to the cat? But anyway, she’s really cute. So cute. So the best, I think pets bring a lot to our lives, so that’s nice.
Dr. Haas (09:25):
Yeah, for sure.
Monique Ramsey (09:26):
So before we wrap up today, I want to just have you just in a couple sentences explain about your new role within the center, additionally taking on our weight loss program, and we’re going to have a whole separate episode about that, but I thought maybe you could just tell everybody a little bit about that.
Dr. Haas (09:45):
So I think we’ve all been hearing a lot about the Ozempic, Wegovy, the Mounjaro, the Zepbound, these GLP one agonists and a number of people were using ’em in our practice, and we saw how well they were working just on their own. And over the years, there’s always been a number of patients who wanted to have surgery, but to get their best result, ideally they would lose some number of pounds before they had lipo sculpture or a body contouring procedure. And it just is sort of a synergistic idea that we would have these medications so people would be able to more easily lose weight. They really do work, and then they’re already plugged into our system. So if they want to take care of issues with skin laxity, excess skin, they’re already here and plugged in and it really works. So it’s pretty exciting to get started on this.
Monique Ramsey (10:52):
Yeah, it is exciting to kind of think about ways to get yourself to the goal without having to wait two years or something. But I would say having something where we’re going to be with you and connected through the process to help get them to that goal so that they can then reach the next goal, that next milestone. So it’s exciting that you’re doing that with us and that our patients are going to be able to benefit from all your expertise. And so we look forward to that episode. But anything else you want everybody to know about you before we wrap up?
Dr. Haas (11:33):
I think in my career, just always, I think I’ve focused on safety, and that’s most important is these are elective procedures. We want them to be safe for people. And I’ve just always had a lot of compassion for if people are uncomfortable than just doing whatever we can to minimize that. So that’s always been my focus here at work and just helping people to feel that they’re well cared for.
Monique Ramsey (12:07):
That’s wonderful. So if you want to know more about Dr. Haas, we’ll put some links in the show notes, and if you want to learn about our Skinny shot, we’ll have information about that in the show notes as well. But thank you all for joining us, and thank you Dr. Haas.
Dr. Haas (12:22):
My pleasure, Monique. Thank you.
Take a screenshot of this podcast episode with your phone and show it at your consultation or appointment or mention the promo code PODCAST to receive $25 off any service or product of $50 or more at La Jolla Cosmetic. La Jolla cosmetic is located just off the I-5 San Diego Freeway in the XiMed Building on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus. To learn more, go to lj csc.com or follow the team on Instagram @LJCSC. The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast is a production of The Axis.