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Dr. Guillermo R. Zambrano, who died Friday, Jan. 18, in a single-vehicle accident on Buena Vista Road in Prince Frederick, committed almost 40 years to improving medical care in Calvert County.

“He was really committed to the things that he loved, and he certainly loved providing outpatient imaging services to the community,” said Jim Xinis, president and CEO of Calvert Memorial Hospital. “He was always in the forefront to make sure the patients in Calvert County would receive the very best outpatient imaging care possible.”

Zambrano, 68, of Prince Frederick was a radiologist and joined the CMH medical staff in 1973, said CMH public relations director Kasia Sweeney.

“He’s been with our hospital and with our community for 39 years,” she said. “He was just loved by all the staff and physicians at Calvert Memorial Hospital. He was just really a wonderful man. He always had time for everybody.”

Zambrano moved to the U.S. in 1971 from Colombia. He began working as an emergency department physician at Calvert Memorial Hospital in 1973 while completing his residency in diagnostic radiology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

In his almost four decades of medical service, Zambrano dedicated himself to providing residents with the best imaging technology possible.

“[Zambrano] was a leader in developing the outpatient diagnostic imaging services in our community,” Sweeney said.

Sally Showalter, a registered nurse and CMH board member, said she was a new nurse working in the emergency department of the old, one-story hospital building when Zambrano started working there. She said at the time, the hospital had a small staff of about three people, including herself and Zambrano.

After several years, Zambrano stopped working in the emergency department and became a member of the staff as a radiologist, Showalter said. He then established his own private practice.

Sweeney said Zambrano’s original outpatient practice, Calvert X–Ray, was on the third floor of the old Weems Building. Zambrano owned the first CT scanner in the county, and Showalter said she remembers patients being taken from CMH across the parking lot to his private practice to use the CT scanner in his office.

Zambrano also introduced ultrasound, mammography, angiography and MRI services to the county.

In 1992, Zambrano and two others collaborated with CMH to establish the Calvert Medical Imaging Center, Sweeney said. She said he remained the medical director of the imaging center up until the time of his death.

Xinis said Zambrano was the “driver and leader” of the imaging center.

“That was his greatest accomplishment,” Xinis said.

Zambrano also helped form American Radiology Associates in 2001, which Sweeney said included groups of radiologists from across the state. At one point, she said, the ARA was one of the largest radiology groups in the state with 80 radiologists.

As someone who was “passionate about women’s health,” Zambrano also was instrumental in developing the breast imaging part of the Sheldon E. Goldberg Center for Breast Care at CMH, Sweeney said.

Xinis said Zambrano recognized that women were frequently the “caregivers and the core of the families,” and because of this, they often would neglect taking care of themselves. Zambrano focused on women’s health because he believed if they were well taken care of, their families would be, too.

“He took a lot of pride in his work, especially for those services that were part of our women’s health services,” Xinis said. “He spent a lot of time with that, and was very involved with founding the [Center for Breast Care].”

Showalter described Zambrano as a well-respected, caring and compassionate physician. Speaking from personal experience, Showalter said any time she had an X-ray or mammogram, Zambrano would personally sit down to discuss the results with her.

“I know he’s done that for many people,” she said. “We’re losing a very well-respected physician. … We’re losing someone who has a lot of history with Calvert Memorial.”

Dr. Charlie Judge of the Calvert Internal Medicine Group said he worked with Zambrano as a friend and as a colleague during Judge’s 30-year professional career in the county.

Zambrano, a “true South American gentleman,” went out of his way to make people, whether they were a patient, a friend or a colleague, feel comfortable, Judge said. This was especially important for patients, he said, who were often worried about what their X-ray might show.

One of the things that stood out about Zambrano, Judge said, was when “you were with him, you were the most important person in the world.” He said Zambrano would always take time to ask how people and their families were before getting down to business.

“He was one of a kind,” Judge said. “… You just don’t meet people like him very often.”

Judge said he and Zambrano were neighbors, so they were always socializing “for one reason or another.” In his spare time, Zambrano enjoyed flying his amphibian plane, an aircraft that can take off and land on both land and water, Judge said. He said Zambrano kept the plane in a hangar on his property and would take the plane out onto the river and take off from there. Occasionally, Judge said, he would fly with Zambrano to the Eastern Shore.

“I even remember watching him out on the river fishing from his airplane,” Judge said. “He opened up the doors of the plane and went fishing in the river. He only did it once; he just did it to say he could do it.”

The two men would attend aviation conventions together every year, Judge said. At the conventions, they would walk around the air show separately and make plans to meet up for lunch, he said.

“By the time I got there, he would have lunch ready with more food than I could possibly eat,” Judge said. “… That was him — anticipating any possible need and being ready for it.”

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com