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Published on April 01, 2022

MD Local: Driving Force Against COVID-19

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Dr David Rand Golfing

Written by Diane Krieger | Photographed by Siri Berting

In one of life’s ironies, David Rand, MD, chose infectious disease as his specialty in part because a department chief told him the hours were regular and patients seldom died. Both turned out to be myths—especially in a pandemic.

At the peak of the spring 2020 hospital crisis, Dr. Rand was working 16-hour shifts, seven days a week. The worst stretch saw him and fellow Torrance Memorial infectious disease specialist Eric Milefchik, MD, caring for 250 coronavirus patients. That’s almost half the hospital’s capacity.

Dr David Rand GolfingIn October 2020, COVID-19 took a personal turn as Dr. Rand helplessly watched his father-in-law die of the disease in Torrance Memorial’s ICU.

When asked to talk about his life outside the hospital, he initially draws a blank. “The man under this white coat is kind of boring,” he says, apologetically. “Basically, the last 30 years of my life have been all about medicine.”

He has no regrets about choosing infectious disease as his specialty. “It’s very detective-worky,” he says. But it leaves little bandwidth for other interests.

Before the pandemic, he found respite in golf. He’d play a round with some buddies a couple times a month. Once or twice a year they’d travel to a famous course on the PGA or U.S. Open circuit.

Those trips resumed last spring. In the lull before the Delta-variant storm, the golf buddies headed to Oregon’s Bandon Dunes. Last September, just weeks ahead of the Ryder Cup, they walked the hallowed greens of Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

As with his choice of medical specialty, there’s bittersweet irony in Dr. Rand’s affinity for golf. His father was an avid, lifelong golfer, and young David picked up his first club at age 6. But he drifted away from the sport in his teens, and it was only after his dad died in 2004 that a longing for connection brought Dr. Rand back to the links.

“It crushes me that we never played together as adults,” he says. “A lot of the enjoyment I get out of golf is hoping Dad is somehow watching me play.”

He recounts an “out-of-body experience” at the seventh hole of Pebble Beach: “I was on the tee, looking out at the ocean. And I just teared up, wishing so badly my dad was there.”

Moments later, Dr. Rand birdied the par-3 hole. “I know Dad was watching me,” he says. “He was definitely involved. He had to be.”

Dr. Rand’s other passion is the fight against cancer. He and his wife, Michelle, are both active in American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She is the team leader for the 100-person Torrance Memorial Care Bears, and he’s their chief fundraiser. Together the team raised nearly $50,000 in the run-up to last October’s gala event.

The Rands initially got involved with the charity in 2004, after both Michelle’s mother and David’s father died of cancer. Their commitment redoubled last May when Michelle was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“Thank goodness, she had a surgical cure,” Dr. Rand says.  

That’s a piece of happy irony.

Vital Stats

Age: 60, born in Cincinnati, grew up in Tustin, California

Education: UC Irvine, Hahnemann Medical School (now Drexel University), Keck School of Medicine of USC, residency and infectious disease fellowship at L.A. County+USC Medical Center

Hometown: Southwood neighborhood of Torrance

Kids: Brittany, 32, a veterinarian in Alabama, and David Jr., 27, a lab tech now earning his CLS license (“We used to work together at Torrance Memorial. I ordered the cultures, and he ran them.”)

Wife: Michelle, a former administrator with Northrop Grumman, now “a professional volunteer.” Besides leading Torrance Memorial’s participation in the Relay for Life, she’s a tree designer with the hospital’s annual Holiday Festival.

Nickname: The Imelda Marcos of golf shoes (“I have about four or five different pairs. I get grief from the other guys because I like to look nice on the golf course.”)

Favorite Golf Brands: Ping putter, FootJoy shoes

Best Local Links: Rolling Hills Country Club, Palos Verdes Golf Club, The Saticoy Club in Ventura

Top Three Golf Destinations: Pebble Beach, California; Royal Port Rush, Ireland; TPC Sawgrass, Florida (“Pebble Beach and Sawgrass were Dad’s favorites, so playing there is a special experience.”)

Good Reads: Anything by Stephen King or John Schettler

Sports Fandom: “I love to watch Trojan football, the Dodgers, the Lakers, the Rams. L.A. teams are my thing.”