By Kathy Hubbard
If you didn’t know that today was National Doctors Day or if you didn’t even know there was one, you’re in good company. I didn’t either. Not that I care that much. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate doctors as much as anyone else does. Maybe it’s sour grapes, but there’s no National Journalists Day, so I just don’t care.
But, if you do, it’s apparently appropriate to send cards to physicians and their wives and to put flowers on deceased doctors’ graves. At least that was the idea conceived by Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of physician Charles B. Almond (whose only claim to fame that I could find on the internet is that he married Eudora) back in 1933 in Winder, Georgia.
Eudora thought it would be a good idea to single out March 30, because it was the date that Dr. Crawford W. Long became the first doctor to use ether as a general anesthetic during surgery. He used it to remove a tumor from the neck of his patient, James W. Venable. The year was 1842.
Venable probably appreciated being knocked out for the surgery, but there’s no history of whether or not he sent a card to Long. Who, by the way, really didn’t get too much credit for his good deed. Long didn’t publish the results of his experiments until 1848. By then, a dentist by the name of William T.G. Morton had received fame (we don’t know about fortune) for using ether as an anesthetic.
Back to National Doctors Day, I found out about this occasion by reading a message Bonner General Health’s CEO, Sheryl Rickard sent to employees earlier this month.
“We take this opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the contributions our doctors make to the hospital, our patients, and our community. We thank them for compassionate and professional care they provide each and every day,” Rickard said.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed March 30 as National Doctors Day. In his proclamation he stated that “medicine is a special calling, and those who have chosen this vocation in order to serve their fellowman understand the tremendous responsibility it entails.”
He goes on to talk about the famous physicians in history such as African American pioneers Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Dr. Charles Drew. He paid tribute to Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin for formulating the vaccine to prevent poliomyelitis and other physicians for their research and inroads in the fights against life-threatening diseases such as cancer, AIDs, etc.
“However,” he stated, “in addition to the doctors whose names we easily recognize, there are countless others who carry on the quiet work of healing each day in communities throughout the United States – indeed, throughout the world. Common to the experience of each of them, from the specialist in research to the general practitioner, is hard work, stress and sacrifice.”
Rickart paid tribute to the 44 physicians who are active medical staff members at BGH, the 22 physicians on affiliate staff and four who are community associate staff members. She said that in our small community we are fortunate to have physicians who practice in the following areas: addiction medicine, anesthesiology, cardiology, emergency medicine, general surgery, hospitalist, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pain management, pediatrics, podiatry, psychiatry and radiology.
Besides the doctors who live and work here, we have affiliate physicians in the areas of allergy and immunology, nephrology, otolaryngology, pathology and urology. Go ahead, send them all cards.
“This national recognition provides us with an opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication that our physicians demonstrate in the hospital and in our community every day,” Rickard said.
Truth be told, even without a day of gratitude for my profession, I care a lot about our community’s physicians. Thanks to all of you who work tirelessly to keep us healthy! May it be a very long time before we put flowers on your graves!
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.