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I Remember…

County/Country Doctors

I had the privilege of working with many doctors in Pocahontas County, and, although many of them have passed away, their names are still remembered and their legacy lives on. It is interesting to note that the doctors’ first names are rarely used in our remembrances.

Long before my time here, Dr. Solter and Dr. Norman Price, affectionately referred to as “Doc Norman,” tended to the needs of the community, with what we now consider to have been limited, antiquated instruments.

Dr. Price did countless home deliveries, one of whom is my 80-year-old friend.

House calls were common occurrences at that time, and payment for visits was not necessarily made in cash – sometimes it was a couple of jars of homemade jam.

Dr. Jim Price, a brother to Doc Norman, and Dr. Howard were also practicing at that time.

Dr. Hamrick had a local practice here. I worked with him at Denmar when it was a nursing home – Denmar State Hospital. The nurses lived in an apartment on the grounds there.

Dr. Roland Sharp devoted many years to caring for the residents in the upper end of the county. He lived a long and full life, and was a much beloved doctor and friend to many.

When I began working as a nurse at the Marlinton Hospital and in doctors’ offices, I worked with Dr. Dilley, Dr. McClure, Dr. Pittman and Dr. Rexrode.

These men worked 24/7, every day of the year, only occasionally taking a brief vacation.

They had an office practice, made rounds at the hospital, worked in the emergency room, delivered babies and performed major surgeries.

They even made a few house calls and went to the scene of accidents.

I went with Dr. McClure when men were trapped in a cave at Swago.

Dr. Dilley was known for having a bit of a temper – well, maybe even more than a bit.

My first encounter with his temper was on my first day on duty at the old Marlinton Hospital.

I was new to the area, and I had assessed all my patients and listened to their complaints and ailments.

I was puzzled by a word I heard repeatedly.

When I asked, “How are you?” The patients would reply, “Tolable”

When Dr. Dilley came on duty and asked about his patients, I told him I didn’t know how they were.

He jumped up in the air and yelled at me.

Of course, his yelling did not faze me, the doctors I worked with out west, when I was a new graduate, could out yell him!
I explained the problem of “tolable,” and over the years we often laughed about it.

Dr. McClure was skillful and had a large, devoted practice. But he was often slow to respond at night to calls from the ER. His comment would be, “Wait until I get my pants on.”

There was no ER doctor on duty at night.

One night, I needed Dr. McClure “STAT” – right now!

When he gave his usual reply, I told him “now – with or without your pants.”

He arrived quickly and had his pants on.

I worked in Dr. Rexrode’s office for nine years, and helped him at the hospital with deliveries and surgeries.

He was an excellent boss – never once raised his voice.

I clearly recall one surgery on a Sunday, when Dr. Rexrode, Dr. McClure and a team of nurses brought triplets into the world.

Drs. Pedro and Rafael Gonzales and Dr. Soriano came to the area several years ago. Dr. Soriano remained and continues his private practice today, as well as tending to the residents at Pocahontas Center.

Dr. Eilers and Dr. John Sharp came onto the medical scene during my years at PMH and Pocahontas Center.

Dr. Eilers still maintains a practice at Slaty Fork and Green Bank.

One special memory I have of Dr. John Sharp was when he fulfilled a wish for a 96 year old resident at the center.

She wanted Santa to visited her on Christmas.

Dr. Sharp came in full attire – red suit and white beard to visit her – which was met with tears and laughter from residents and staff.

I came to know Drs. Bill and Pat Browning on a professional and personal level.

When Dr. Bill’s “Auntie Boo” came from California to Pocahontas Center, I saw them as a family.

For many years, Dr. Bill had an office practice and was on staff at PMH and PC.

Their retiring has been a loss to our community.

Other doctors have come and gone – some here for a brief time, some a bit longer.

I remember Dr. Hamilton, Drs. Jon and Mike Mustonen, Dr. Walkup and Dr. Sarita Bennett.

The high cost of malpractice insurance today has made it nearly impossible for a doctor to “do it all,” as they did years ago. Now there are specialists in all fields of medicine.

We now have ER doctors at PMH 24/7. We have Physician’s Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.

A lot of duties that were once the responsibility of the doctor are now performed by Registered Nurses on a regular basis.
We each may have our favorites – the doctors who touched our lives in some way.

Do you remember?

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