Eric Fine, 81, of Elkins Park, an accomplished psychiatrist who worked in Philadelphia hospitals for more than 40 years and founded a methadone facility in Center City, died Tuesday, April 18, of advanced heart failure at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health.
Born in Wales, he came to the University of Pennsylvania on Labor Day 1969 for a teaching position. He planned to stay about a year, but eight months in, he met his future wife, Stephanie, at a mutual friend’s dinner party convened to set them up, she recalled.
“That night, I called my sister, and I said, ‘I just met the guy I’m going to marry,’” said Stephanie Fine. “Three minutes later we were engaged, and five minutes after that, we were married.”
Dr. Fine, who specialized in addiction psychiatry, maintained a private practice in Philadelphia and Elkins Park, and held positions at various Philadelphia-area hospitals over the course of his career. He was an associate professor and physician at Thomas Jefferson University until his death.
He opened an addiction-treatment facility, Addiction Medicine & Health Advocates Inc. (AMHA), in Center City, which was incorporated in 1976 and where he remained as medical director.
“He just had a passion for wanting to help people who were suffering from the disease of addiction,” said executive director Robert Holmes, who had worked with Dr. Fine since 1988. “He felt the best way to do it was to create programs and services that were consistent with the needs of the people that he was seeing at the time.”
Holmes called Fine an astute leader and patient-centered doctor who was “always on top of his game.”
Fine was “ahead of his time in many ways” in his addiction work, said Sandy Cini, AMHA program director. Personable and outgoing, he would walk into the clinic every morning and call out a loud “Hello” in his Welsh accent.
He was remembered by colleagues for his exceptional relationships with patients.
“They never felt talked-down to. … They felt like he was very nonjudgmental, that they could open up to him and tell him things and that they wouldn’t be judged or criticized,” said Cini, adding that she had never had a patient complaint about him in nearly 20 years.
Fine was also a forensic psychiatrist and testified in court cases, wrote articles, and was a member of various professional groups, said his wife.
In his spare time, he loved to read highly intellectual books, enjoyed running and kayaking, and was passionate about his family. On summer weekends, he and his wife relaxed by the beach in Margate, N.J. The couple enjoyed traveling to London and Israel, where they had family.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Fine is survived by sons Jonathan and David, and two grandchildren.
Services will be private.