Dr. Anthony Scarsella, 77, a renowned national trailblazer in the fields of early HIV and gay men’s general healthcare, and chief of research at the Pacific Oaks Medical Group (POMG), has died. His passing was announced on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 by the medical practice. POMG, based in Beverly Hills, where he was both the President and Medical Director of the 40 year-old medical practice and was the last surviving original member of the group, Dr. Scarsella succumbed to injuries from an accident and died at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood late Friday.
“Time and fate changed and shaped my career as an M.D. and gave my journey new meaning as a pioneer and first-generation Doc in AIDS care-giving,” he recently said.
“Eventually, I was able to poke my head out from the AIDS mountain and I could take care of people who were gay and not HIV+. It was clear that the gay community, my community, had some ordinary medical problems and some unique ones having nothing to do with AIDS. That condition was always in the background, but for many of my patients there was and is a lot related to being gay.”
Starting in the mid-1980s, Doctors Anthony Scarsella, Scott Hitt, Paul Rothman, James Thomas and Dan Bowers joined the then small medical group, originally based in Sherman Oaks, which was renamed by Tony, the Pacific Oaks Medical Group (POMG).
A Primary Care giver who also cared for people with HIV, Hepatitis and other infectious diseases since 1984. Dr. Scarsella was aligned with an early team of nationally recognized AIDS frontline practitioners who led the HIV fight from the trenches and created whole new protocols for diagnosing and treating the fast-spreading disease, which has now become quite treatable.
A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Dr. Scarsella received his undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, received his master’s degree in molecular biology at UC Berkeley and was awarded a medical degree from UC San Francisco.
He completed his internship and residency at the Kaiser Foundation Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. and was certified with the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Academy of HIV Medicine.
Dr. Scarsella was also the Principal Investigator with Pacific Oaks Research. He has directed many different clinical trials in various areas such as infectious and male related diseases, hyperlipidemia, and aging. Dr. Scarsella was the Study Director for Consolidated Laboratory Services, overseeing the laboratory components of numerous ongoing clinical trials and guiding development of advanced laboratory techniques that affect patients across the country today.
Dr. Scarsella has been honored by the Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center for his HIV teaching and was long affiliated with Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Olympia Medical Center.
In his private life, Dr. Scarsella was married to his partner of 44 years, Terry Williams. Terry supported Tony’s commitment to his community, and together they opened their home for many fundraisers through the years. Tony and Terry have been involved with many of the non-profit organizations; Being Alive, Angel Food amongst many. His off-the-clock interests were comedy performances, classical music, gardening, new restaurants, Starbucks and Sci-Fi.
SOME HISTORY: In the early 1980s, literally hundreds of patients at the group were tested and found to be HIV+. The AIDS epidemic was now annihilating the gay community. Over the next few years, the group opened two AIDS Units, at Sherman Oaks Hospital in the Valley and at Midway Hospital in the city. Dozens of people died from AIDS every day, both in and out of the hospital. Friends and neighbors died. For the POMG founding fathers, it was a time that cannot be described without opening wounds. 1996 -POMG consolidated in Beverly Hills. As even better medications emerged, the AIDS epidemic began to ease. The AIDS units reduced in size and ultimately closed. HIV became a manageable disease and the care of HIV+ persons became more routine. The physicians at POMG could now care for their patients without fear of imminent death. Today, after 40 years of practice, Pacific Oaks continues to treat a diverse patient population and remains a nationally recognized leader in HIV medicine and care. The group also continues to be on the forefront of new HIV treatment modalities, engaged in numerous ongoing clinical trials, seeking a perfect HIV medication or perhaps even a vaccine.
POMG is collecting memories from those who knew Dr. Anthony Scarsella. Stories can be submitted to the link below: