About 2 months into my hand fellowship, the group that I was going to join called and told me that one of their older partners had a heart attack and was not expected to return to work ever to full duty, and that they were going to recruit another orthopedic surgeon for his spot. This changed their plans, and they felt that 2 new orthopedists in the group was more than the group wanted to economically sustain and they thought I needed to know. Basically, this is a notice to me that my services were no longer needed in that community and I was out of a job I never started. Here I am, starting a hand fellowship that will last a year and now I am looking for a job.
A couple of months later, I had the good fortune to meet up with the hospital administrator and his team from a new hospital being built in a community about 30 miles from this same large metropolitan area (instead of 80). They were in desperate need of another orthopedic surgeon. Putting it all together, the physician who was the orthopedic surgeon at that time everyone basically thought was a jerk. He would send folks out of town rather than take care of them at the local hospital. He also was reportedly abusive and argumentative about his emergency room responsibility for coverage and would not be available on weekends or at night!! Not being one to set too high a bar for myself to achieve, I certainly thought my deportment was better than that, and least at the outset, I thought I could be available.
The saying in orthopedics and medicine (and in most professions) is that physicians need to have 3 qualities. These are Availability, Affability, and Ability, and IN THAT ORDER!!!! The rationale behind this is that most patients cannot judge the quality of your work but only whether you are nice to them and seem to care, whether you can be reached anytime and will show up to care for them when they call in their time of need.
I sent my wife to this new potential practice location, since I thought professionally it was good for me, but it also needed to be good for her. She looked over the community and the schools and after carefully assessing the location, we signed up to come to this town for the beginning of my professional career. I did not know from the outset whether or not this would be a long term deal and did not commit to any long term housing for the first six months. We moved into a very nice rental house. I set my first office up in a very nice double wide trailer parked in the parking lot of the old hospital which had been built with funds in the 1960’s.
The old hospital had been built as a one level like an old VA hospital. The NEW hospital was a state of the art 80 bed facility with all the latest in technology and built expressly for the purpose of maintaining medical care locally. There was a larger community another 30 miles further northwest that had been siphoning off a good bit of the medical care and a number of people who still felt like they needed to go to the large city for care. The philosophy behind this New Hospital and bringing in a number of specialists (I was one of Five) was to increase the quality of care at the local hospital, elevate the perception of local medical care in the minds of the community and build a world class medical facility.
Unknown to me, one of the other physicians recruited was an medical school classmate of mine, a general surgeon who was on his second wife when he came to this community, having married one of our classmates when he was in his fellowship training for vascular surgery. That marriage didn’t work, and he divorced and married a nurse before he came to join the medical staff.
The local community’s perception of the OLD hospital was that is where you went to find out whether you needed a doctor or needed to be in the hospital and then were transferred out to either the “BIG CITY” hospital or the hospital a few miles to the west. Our goal was to change all that. We did. My practice took off from the very beginning and grew until my retirement. The hospital has done well and continued to grow undergoing many expansions. The medical staff has grown with many specialists and is a first class place to work.
I get some satisfaction from knowing that all this has occurred on my watch. Most of my satisfaction in my practice, however, has been predominantly from the patients that I have had the privilege to treat and the situations in which I have been involved in professionally.
I have learned a lot about life, people, human judgment, religion, God, the IRS, other physicians, hospital administration, corporate medicine, insurance companies, workman’s comp, cocaine, meth, alcohol and sports medicine. (In no particular order LOL!!)
I’m going to try to bring you some stories as we progress along so you can get a better understanding of what we do , why we do it, and maybe where we are going with this….. stay tuned……..chapter 2