Father to son, Fort Worth Doctors Provide Care to JPS patients for 55 Years

March 29th, 2019

In 1965, when Fort Worth area cardiologist Dr. Robert Capper made rounds at JPS Health Network to check on his patients, he brought his 10-year-old son, David, along for the ride.

Doctors David (left) and Robert Capper have helped JPS Health Network Patients for 55 years

Doctors David (left) and Robert Capper have helped JPS Health Network Patients for 55 years

“There were seven siblings, so I think dad brought me along to give mom a break more than anything else,” said the younger Capper. “But I watched the way he took care of people and gave his time to the community. That really inspired me.”

Five and a half decades later, David Capper not only followed in his father’s footsteps to become a physician, he got his dad’s giving ethic, dedicating himself to the public hospital where people who have no place else to turn for healthcare come to get well.

Robert Capper, 89, moved to Fort Worth after working as an Army doctor. Back then, he said, doctors weren’t tied to specific hospitals like they often are now. He made rounds all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but he always made sure he dedicated one day a week to volunteering his services to patients at JPS.

The younger Capper, 63, started at JPS as a substitute physician when doctors from a medical group that staffed the hospital were on vacation. His role later grew to help JPS develop its outreach programs that provide care to patients without homes. A few weeks ago, he was named the new Medical Director of Palliative Care at JPS, the latest of many times David made his "pop" proud.

“When he used to come along with me, I had no idea he was interested in the medical field,” Robert Capper said. “In fact, I didn’t really know until he told me when he was in high school that he wanted to go to Austin College because they had a pretty good pre-med program. When he said that, it made my jaw drop.”

Robert Capper said it’s humbling to have a son who admires not just his work but also his sense of dedication to the community.

“When I started my practice, it was expected that doctors donated some of their time to the people in the community who couldn’t afford proper medical care,” Robert Capper said before pausing. “It’s very difficult for me to explain how pleased and proud I am of what he’s done.”

Dad has made his son pretty proud, too.

“Bob Capper is a great colleague to anyone who has had the pleasure of working with him,” David Capper said. “It’s been a highlight of my career to be able to work with my dad. Even though he finally retired, I still ask him once in a while to look at an EKG for me because he’s such a great cardiologist.”

David called his father a “groundbreaker” because he created a one-of-a-kind critical care course for nurses and created a coronary care unit believed to be the first of its kind in the state outside of Houston.

“He’s a stellar example of a physician who does his best to constantly advance the field by helping those around him,” David Capper said of his father. “He’s the best physician colleague I have ever known.”

The younger Capper is also continuing the family tradition of innovation in medicine. He said it’s his intention to expand palliative care services – care to help people with chronic and long-term illnesses comfortable – at JPS.

While people are often familiar with the concept of hospice care, which is care for people at the end of their life, many people aren’t familiar with the similar in concept of palliative care, David Capper said. Why? Because Medicare and Medicaid don’t provide much support for palliative care.

Because of medical advances, people are living longer even when they have serious illnesses, making palliative care more necessary than ever. David Capper said one of his goals in his new role is to find a way to bridge the gap between covering the cost of services and getting people care they need. He believes the key may be to expand outpatient palliative care services.

Added up, the doctors Capper have given nearly 55 years of service to JPS.

Robert Capper said he worked so long because he loved helping his patients. He’s glad to know, even though he’s finally hung up his stethoscope, that his son is making sure people in Fort Worth are getting the care they deserve and need. David said he has no plans to retire any time soon – and he hinted that there just might be another generation of the cappers, his youngest child, ready to pick up the family’s medical mantle.

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