Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Dec. 14, 2020.
Pete Schiavo's patients call him by plenty of unflattering nicknames—"The Groin Crusher," "Petey Pressure," and "The Groin Guy," to name just a few—and yet they can't stop raving about his inimitable bedside manner. Here's how a gregarious man with an unusual job became one of Pennsylvania Hospital's most popular providers, Stephanie Farr writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
What Schiavo does
Schiavo, a hemostasis tech, often first encounters patients shortly after they've had a coronary procedure. He explains to them that, after their catheters are removed from their femoral artery, he'll need to apply pressure to their groin for 20 to 40 minutes in order to help with clotting, Farr writes.
Farr describes Schiavo as "a gregarious, emotional, wisecracking guy who is all South Philly," and he's become extremely popular among his patients. "He's won awards, had money donated in his name, and gets stopped all the time by former patients who want to buy him drinks or dinner," Farr writes.
Schiavo says his popularity stems in part from the face time he gets with patients. "I'm holding someone's groin for 20 minutes, they tend to remember me and nobody else," Schiavo said, adding, "I tell them: 'I can promise you two things when I'm done: You'll never forget my name or my face.' And they never do."
How Schiavo's Navy background helps him provide care
Schiavo said he's probably worked on "well over 10,000 groins, without even a sweat" during the 15 years he's been employed at Pennsylvania Hospital, and he brought to the job a background that helps him provide the best possible care to patients.
Schiavo was born in South Philadelphia and joined the Navy after graduating high school, spending six years in the service, Farr writes. "My training taught me situational awareness and attention to detail, which helps me in this job today," he said. "If I'm not attentive to detail here, somebody is going to die."
After he left the Navy, Schiavo became a welder at a General Electric (GE) plant in Philadelphia, Farr writes. After four of his coworkers died of heart attacks within a short period of time, GE began offering to pay for employees to go through EMT and paramedic school to help their coworkers in the future.
Schiavo took advantage of this program and, after his training, started moonlighting as a critical-care technician and volunteering with a local ambulance company, Farr writes. After the GE plant he had worked at closed, Schiavo started working at Pennsylvania Hospital. He worked as a critical-care tech for three years before taking his current position.
Within days of starting his new position, Schiavo said he knew it was a perfect fit. "This fit me like a glove, this was like the missing piece of the puzzle for me," he said. Schiavo said he's learned to use a three-finger method when placing pressure on groins, because if you use your whole hand, "you'll fatigue out in minutes."
Overall, Schiavo said he's a pretty happy guy, in part because "[i]t takes too much energy to be miserable, it's just easier to be happy." He added, "I'm the party guy. I'm that guy … I'm all about la dolce vita—the sweet life. I love eating, drinking, and partying, when I'm not working, of course."
Sandy Kuritzky, the wife of a patient who was treated by Schiavo, said, "Pete's attitude with his patients and their caregivers is so upbeat and friendly and caring and funny that it makes a stressful time less stressful and difficult" (Farr, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/2).