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The history of Arizona's physicians is rich in mystery, controversy, innovation and pride. Since the settlers first inhabited the territory, physicians have been a part of Arizona's legacy. They helped shape the culture of this Great State and set the standard for the quality of care delivered to its citizens. The Physicians of Interest page on this website highlights the historical work of Arizona's physicians and the roles they played while shaping the State's future. The biography of a new physician will be added each month and in time, the page will represent a patchwork of the names and faces that brought medicine in Arizona to life.

Otto L. Bendheim, M.D.

Otto L. Bendheim, M.D. is a well-known Arizona pioneer in the psychiatry field with a personal history few could have imagined. Born in 1911, the native from Frankfurt, Germany fled the country in the 1934, following Adolph Hitler's rise to power. Leaving several family members behind in Germany, Dr. Bendheim relocated to the United States and completed his medical training at the University of Michigan in 1936. In 1939, he came to Phoenix, Arizona to take the position as Superintendent of the State Hospital.

During WWII, Dr. Bendheim returned to Europe, where he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1942-1946. In a letter to his parents, dated April 1945, Dr. Bendheim reflected on the destruction of post-war Germany and wrote, "A new world is being born. Let's pray it won't be a new monstrosity."

In 1954, Dr. Bendheim founded Camelback Hospital, a non-profit psychiatric institution, which later became the Wendy Paine O'Brien facility, part of the Samaritan Behavioral Health System. He also held a private psychiatric practice for over 50 years. In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Bendheim served on the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners (now the Arizona Medical Board), was President of the Arizona Psychiatric Society and retained a membership with the Maricopa County Medical Society from 1942 until his death.

Dr. Bendheim celebrated his 75th birthday by climbing 14,000 feet into the Himalayas and was still in active practice at 86 years of age. He passed away February 6, 2003 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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