“Slowly I turned, step by step” is how an old Vaudeville routine starts. I remember the Three Stooges performing the skit. As I watched it on the computer today, I was struck by how violent the act was. The Three Stooges were great at turning violence into humor. So, what does an old Vaudeville routine have to do with my current writings? The answer is complex. On the one hand, when writing about the past, the perspective may change radically. My memory of “Slowly I turn” was one of humor and belly laughs while now the predominant emotion surrounds violence and anger. The other answer to my question may be nothing at all.
I promised myself I would write a book and my articles of late have been part of the forward to that book. Today, I realized that I knew what I was doing, but I forgot to inform my readers, leaving many of you in the dark. Medicine will have changed so radically that by the time I’ve finished writing this book, it may only be of interest to people that love reading about dinosaurs, my generation of doctors being the dinosaurs.
Anyway, I’m up to the opening of Lake Zurich Family Treatment Center (LZFTC). LZFTC was such a radical idea that everyone was sure we would bankrupt quickly. Good Shepherd Hospital’s administrator told the banks I would belly up. Other Doc’s in the community were on the one hand sure I would fail and on the other hand afraid of my model. Remember, this was the early 80s and medicine by appointment was the standard. By the time I retired, most docs allotted at least part of their schedules for Walkins.
Anyway, two young bankers (Ron and Jack) and an open-minded executive at Hoffman Estates Medical Center managed to help me get a loan and construction started in LZ. One of my professors at UVA had once told me that to be successful at anything all you needed to do was to be the first to open next to a new McDonalds. And so, Lzftc was opening next to a new Burger King and a new McDonalds. My prof was right. LZ was a rapidly growing community (fertile).
Construction was not without problems. It was a Union job and it was behind schedule. One day, my landlord called stating that the union was going to walk off the job. Someone had been working during the night and the union presumed that I had hired someone to speed things up. I explained that Renee and I were broke and I had been working on the office at night. When the union crew heard that the interloper was the doc and he was broke, they stopped complaining and finished working on the job.
One summer night, a family eating TCBY came in asking if I knew anything about the new doc. I was covered in dust (I was putting in ceiling tiles) and explained that the new doc was young, well trained and would see their family without appointments seven days a week. Then I Introduced myself. They became patients from that night until I retired.
During my first weeks in LZ, I made a house call to a family who had gone to a Civil War reenactment. I got lost and had to stop at several houses to get directions. At each house, I introduced myself and explained that I was lost, a doctor and trying to make a house call. The entire family had lost the war and gotten food poisoning with the exception of the youngest son who had an acute appendicitis. The word spread that there was a new doc in town who not only made house calls but was a good diagnostician. Can you believe that there were no GPS or cell phones in 1984?
LZFTC was open 7 days a week and I made rounds at three hospitals. I furnished an office in my basement and made reverse house calls. You found me in PJs, wet swimsuit, work clothes or whatever, whenever you showed up.
Enough for today. There are too many stories put on paper. Suffice to say, LZFTC was destined to be a family, and it was growing.