Dr. Deidra Bergmann, D.O., has a passion for medicine, pets, and people. This comes from her childhood in Bay Village, Ohio, where even her beginnings were unique.
“I was delivered a week earlier than expected and my mother’s doctor was on vacation. So, I was brought into this world with the help of the infamous Dr. Sam Sheppard, best known as the real-life inspiration for TV’s The Fugitive,” Bergmann said.
Her late father – whom she describes as her rock – was a pathologist, and also a medical examiner. Her mother was a teacher, and she spent idyllic summers on her grandparents’ farm. When young Deidra’s mother needed some personal time, she went to work with her father in the hospital.
“Going to work with my father taught me compassion for people at a young age,” she fondly recalled.
In 1985, she graduated from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida—the first of her class of 54 other aspiring doctors. As her father was one of the professors at the medical school, he was allowed the honor of “hooding” Deidra, as seen in the picture. Upon her graduation she was aware that surgery was seen as a “man’s world.” Not wanting that to remain the status quo, she applied for a residency in surgery.
In 1990, Bergmann became one of 28 female General Surgeons in the country. By 1995, she was made a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, which made her father proud.
Surgeons, like musicians and artists, require steady hands. However, in 2000, she attended a gay ski-weekend in Aspen, Colorado.
“Then it all changed,” she said. “I slipped on the ice and fell. The result was damage to my left hand. After surgery and rehabilitation, my hand was never fully functional, as required for a surgeon. So, in 2002, I had to give up my lifework… or so I thought.”
Instead of going into a depression, the strong-willed Bergmann decided to devote her time to the causes and issues for which she is passionate. In 2002, she became the president of the Broward County Osteopathic Medical Association for a 2-year term. In 2003, she began work with The Pet Project for Pets, which ensures that people with serious medical conditions can still maintain their pets.
She also rejoined Women in Network (WIN) in 2005, after an eight-year hiatus, and by 2009 Bergmann became a board member and the chairwoman of the Membership & Social Committee. WIN, an organization featured in SFGN recently, offers a safe, social and professional organization for lesbians—and the opportunity to meet other women in a professional and social-networking environment.
However, she did not stop there. Her spirit—like a surgeon at the operating table—cannot know fatigue. In 2009, she became a board member at SunServe, the non-profit organization that realizes everyone has the right to quality services.
“And I mean everyone,” she said emphatically. SunServe’s Senior Day Care, the world’s first and only program for LGBT seniors, was “a perfect fit for my father and me.”
Bergmann has dedicated her life to the care of others, and unlike many busy, urbane, professionals with a lust for life, she did not turn her back on the man she describes as “my rock.” When he became too frail to take care of himself, she moved him into her home.
“This man guided me and supported me for my first 18 years. I decided I would be there for his last,” she said of her father.
Her father passed away in March. Yet we see in Bergmann’s story, and in her father’s guidance, the legacy of fathers on their children. We must not only thank Deidra for her commitment to the community, but we must posthumously thank her father, Dr. Donald Bergmann.