Services are set for Saturday, Oct. 14, for Dr. Sharon M. Curlik, 64, of Philadelphia, a respected geriatric psychiatrist who died Sept. 3 of complications from a brain aneurysm at her home.
Dr. Curlik had undergone two brain surgeries in 1994 to repair several aneurysms.
“She had 23 [more] years,” said her husband, K.C. Goodman. “She got to see her kids grow up and marry fine young men. She got to see her grandson.”
Born in Elizabeth, N.J., Dr. Curlik grew up in Carteret and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Perth Amboy. In 1972, she moved to Philadelphia to attend what is now St. Joseph’s University, and in 1982, she married K.C. Goodman. The couple reared two children in Bala Cynwyd before settling in Old City.
Goodman said she had always aspired to become a doctor.
In 1979, Dr. Curlik graduated with honors with a medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She wanted to be a surgeon, but once into a surgical residency, she found it was not a good fit. Instead, she practiced emergency medicine for several years before finally settling on psychiatry.
She completed a residency in psychiatry in 1986 at the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital. While there, she decided to specialize in geriatrics. At that time, geriatric psychiatry was “brand new,” Goodman said. Dr. Curlik was in the first group of fellows to train in the field at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. At the same time, she juggled a family.
Dr. Curlik appeared for her oral exams while nursing a baby. With the help of her husband, she got through it, and began a career as “a hospitalist,” one who goes to a medical center or nursing home to see patients rather than an office. For the last 10 years, she had been on the staff at Einstein Medical Center in Olney.
Dr. Marc Zisselman, who worked with Dr. Curlik at Einstein before leaving in 2015 to become head of geriatrics at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson, Md., said she “truly believed you should treat [patients] as if they were your own grandmother. She recognized the person underlying the disease.”
Dr. Curlik also was an adjunct faculty member and director of residency training at Temple University, the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pennsylvania.
“She held herself and those whom she taught to a very high standard,” Dr. Zisselman said.
She saw elderly patients at Cathedral Village in Andorra and Willowcrest Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Olney.
Staff at the facilities liked and respected her, Dr. Zisselman said, because they recognized her commitment to patient care.
Another aspect of her work took her on the road under a staffing vehicle called locum tenens, or “temporarily taking the place of another,” according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
“She would travel to different locations to do fill-in work if someone was on maternity leave or the hospitals needed a worker for a short-term assignment. Three months was the longest,” her husband said.
The couple enjoyed the assignments because it gave them the opportunity to spend a summer in Sioux Falls, S. Dakota; Flagstaff, Ariz.; the Berkshires of Massachusetts; and the Lake District of New Hampshire.
“She enjoyed the variety, learning about different health systems and the commitment procedures in different states,” Goodman said.
When in town, Dr. Curlik was a patron of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the opera, the ballet, and theater. She and her husband — self-described “foodies” — enjoyed Center City’s restaurants scene. They also traveled widely.
“She was very personable,” her husband said. “When she made a friend, she had a friend for life.”
In addition to her husband of 35 years, she is survived by daughters Caitlin Goodman and Meagan McGovern, and a grandson.
The memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Arch Street Friends Meeting, 320 Arch St., Philadelphia. Burial is private.