The Emergency Department at York Hospital has a lot to thank Dr. David Eitel for.

Eitel, 63, died on Oct. 5. He worked at York Hospital for 30 years as an attending physician and faculty member in the Emergency Department.

"He was a wonderful mentor and friend, and he was instrumental in a lot of the nursing and physician research," said Kay Bleecher, a nurse practitioner for the Emergency Department.

Eitel helped start the department's residency program, and it was approved on the first round - something that almost never happens, said Bleecher.

In 1993, Eitel was the first person to reserve the award for Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services Physician of the Year.

He started Pediatric Advanced Life Support at York, and worked to establish the Advanced Life Support units at the Gettysburg and Hanover Hospitals.

Patient flow and physician flow within the department were important to him, Bleecher said, and he taught several seminars on the matter.

Care management in regard to the plans for patients being sent home was also very important to him, Bleecher said.

"He did the research in our Emergency Department for a triage system that he then gave to the National Emergency Nurses Association, and it is now used in every hospital emergency room in the United States," said Bleecher.

He cared deeply about the people he came into contact with on a daily basis, she said.

Prizes were awarded to co-workers who knew the answers to the trivia questions he created every year for a contest called "Come to Work with Dave Day." He frequently ordered takeout for the staff when they were really busy, Bleecher said.

Once when a psychiatric patient complained that Eitel looked like a leprechaun and he refused to be treated by a leprechaun, Eitel put on a surgical mask and gown and spoke in a southern drawl to treat him.

"The patient was convinced it was not him. It worked," Bleecher said with a laugh.

"He was the most kind person," Bleecher said. "He mentored us and he always regarded every person as important and everybody's job as vital."

"He was not only our mentor but he was our friend," she said. "And he still mentors us every day because he taught us so much."

Growing up, Eitel worked on his family's tobacco farm in Ontario.

The rural family doctor in his town was somewhat of a role model to him, and since school always came easily to him he decided to pursue a career in medicine, said Lynne Eitel, his wife of 38 years.

"He is very determined, and he enjoys challenges; and certainly within medicine, especially emergency medicine, he faced a lot of challenges," said Lynne Eitel.

The couple has three adult children - Jessica, Kristin and Justin. Eitel was always very involved in their activities, his wife said, and supported them 100 percent in their pursuits.

Physical fitness was always a priority for him, she said, and he enjoyed going for long bicycle rides. He loved traveling, and good food and wine.

"He just loved sharing and celebrating with people," said Lynne Eitel.

Two things drew him to York in the early 1980s, she said - the chance to have input in the remodeling process of the hospital and the opportunity to begin a residency program in the Emergency Department.

"To see those things happen plus so much was incredibly satisfying for him," said Lynne Eitel.

- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or cshank@yorkdispatch.com