Colleagues, family members and friends across the country are mourning the loss of Talat J. Khan, M.D., FAAP, who was killed in a Houston suburb on Oct. 28.
She was stabbed to death while sitting at a picnic table near her apartment, and a 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder.
Dr. Khan, 52, had relocated recently to the Houston area after working for 15 years at Sea Mar Community Health Centers in the Seattle area. She leaves behind a 24-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.
Tania Hernandez, D.O., a physician at Sea Mar, met Dr. Khan eight years ago when Dr. Khan was one of her preceptors during her first year as a resident.
“The first thing I think about her is how much she cared about every patient, every child that she saw,” Dr. Hernandez said. “She continued to mentor me, and I could pull her out of a room when I had a question about a patient of mine. She would never say no. If I worked Saturdays, I could call her and ask for advice. She did not have office hours for us. We could call her anytime.”
Dr. Khan previously worked as a pediatric consultant at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., and at Skagit Valley Medical Center in Stanwood, Wash. She joined Sea Mar in 2008, working in its Bellevue and Monroe medical clinics.
Evan Teplow, M.D., a family physician at Sea Mar, met Dr. Khan in 2017, and the two worked together for six years. Dr. Teplow called her a “dedicated pediatrician” who stayed in contact with many of her former colleagues after moving to Texas in July.
“We take care of complex children, families and adults, and she was a central part of our care delivery on the pediatric front,” Dr. Teplow said. “I’d often consult her on challenging cases, and her expertise was well-received, thoughtful and backed by knowledge and expertise. The families she cared for loved her. She brought spunk and energy and a smile to our clinic.”
At the time of her death, she was working for Texas Children’s Pediatrics after relocating to the Houston suburb of Conroe.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Southwest Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League called on law enforcement to determine if her death should be classified as a hate crime. At press time, the investigation was ongoing.
“It is a terrible, unspeakable loss to our community, and our hearts break for her family,” said AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Mark Del Monte, J.D. “Dr. Khan was a huge contributor to our community. We’ll continue to express our support to everybody who is dealing with this loss.”
Dr. Hernandez remembered her former colleague as one who would go above and beyond for her patients and their families, whether it was writing letters for school or calling local children’s hospitals to make sure her patients were admitted.
“She would go that extra mile,” Dr. Hernandez said. “I know she affected a lot of children that way.”
Her dedication to her work came second only to her children.
“She loved being a mother,” Dr. Hernandez said. “She loved her children, she loved kids. And I think that’s what made her such a good doctor. Every kid she saw, she treated them as if they were her own kids.”
Dr. Hernandez recalls not only Dr. Khan’s attention to her family and patients, but to her colleagues and their overall health and well-being.
“I remember one day trying to finish my notes during lunch,” Dr. Hernandez said. “She said ‘No, you’re not going to. You are not going to work through your lunch. You have to take care of yourself and go out for lunch or go for a walk.’”
Dr. Khan graduated from the Medical School of the University of Sindh in Karachi, Pakistan in 1998 and completed her post-graduate work in pediatrics at William Beaumont Hospital in 2004.