The end of an era

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 52 , No. 9 , November 2010 , Pages 433 Editorials

We are approaching the end of an era at our community hospital. As you read this line, you may be expecting a lament on the death of the full-service family physician. The family doctor who has an office practice, hospital privileges, does house calls, does palliative care, delivers babies, and perhaps also does ER work. The dinosaur that has previously been described in these pages, and whose imminent demise has been much lamented. 

This would be a reasonable thought. It may also be reasonable to expect an essay on the demise of the community hospital. I expect that this may happen soon in the new era of “program management.” 

The new buzzwords in our health authority seem to be carving our onceWe are approaching the end of an era at our community hospital. As you read this line, you may be expecting a lament on the death of the full-service family physician. The family doctor who has an office practice, hospital privileges, does house calls, does palliative care, delivers babies, and perhaps also does ER work. The dinosaur that has previously been described in these pages, and whose imminent demise has been much lamented.

This would be a reasonable thought. It may also be reasonable to expect an essay on the demise of the community hospital. I expect that this may happen soon in the new era of “program management.”

The new buzzwords in our health authority seem to be carving our once unified hospital into separate silos of health care delivery. Our interdependent departments such as obstetrics, pediatrics, anesthesia, and surgery are being managed and directed by individuals who are not on site full-time because they have too much on their plates and have to manage and direct multiple hospital sites and programs.

But, alas no. I am going on about the imminent loss of an indispensible person at our hospital, our medical staff secretary who for approximately the past 17 years has been doing her job with amazing dedication. Unfortunately, she is retiring and her position is not going to be filled.

I must be getting old. I find myself reflecting more and more about how things used to be. I am becoming one of the When we generation. You know who you are. You start sentences with When we, such as, “When we started at this hospital…” It is true.

When I started at my hospital 20 years ago, I applied for hospital privileges through the medical staff secretary. It was the medical staff secretary who organized my pager for me, as well as the multiple replacements I have needed over the years. She reminded me that my annual dues were overdue, as was my annual reapplication for hospital privileges.

The medical staff secretary took minutes at our medical staff meetings (and many other committee meetings); she coordinated our on-call schedules and notified others of the changes that we seemed to make so frequently. The medical staff secretary updated our hospital’s physician directory, an indispensible tool for us and our office staff. She was the “go to” person at our hospital when one had a question or a problem. She coordinated weekly education sessions for physicians.

Our medical staff secretary managed our medical staff bank accounts and administered the scholarships our hospital medical staff gives to worthy medical students each year. Her job description has been chang­ed by the hospital administration. She is no longer supposed to be doing the things she has done for the medical staff for the last 17 years. She has outlasted every other secretary in the hospital. She has gone above and beyond on many occasions, quietly and efficiently.

She is due to retire shortly. The glue that holds our hospital’s medical staff together is about to be dissolved. By the time we realize what we have lost, it will be too late. From one dinosaur to another: Have a well-deserved retirement, Marcy. You have certainly earned it. We will all miss you. It won’t be same around here any more.
—DBC unified hospital into separate silos of health care delivery. Our interdependent departments such as obstetrics, pediatrics, anesthesia, and surgery are being managed and directed by individuals who are not on site full-time because they have too much on their plates and have to manage and direct multiple hospital sites and programs. 

But, alas no. I am going on about the imminent loss of an indispensible person at our hospital, our medical staff secretary who for approximately the past 17 years has been doing her job with amazing dedication. Unfortunately, she is retiring and her position is not going to be filled. 

I must be getting old. I find myself reflecting more and more about how things used to be. I am becoming one of the When we generation. You know who you are. You start sentences with When we, such as, “When we started at this hospital…” It is true. 

When I started at my hospital 20 years ago, I applied for hospital privileges through the medical staff secretary. It was the medical staff secretary who organized my pager for me, as well as the multiple replacements I have needed over the years. She reminded me that my annual dues were overdue, as was my annual reapplication for hospital privileges. 

The medical staff secretary took minutes at our medical staff meetings (and many other committee meetings); she coordinated our on-call schedules and notified others of the changes that we seemed to make so frequently. The medical staff secretary updated our hospital’s physician directory, an indispensible tool for us and our office staff. She was the “go to” person at our hospital when one had a question or a problem. She coordinated weekly education sessions for physicians. 

Our medical staff secretary managed our medical staff bank accounts and administered the scholarships our hospital medical staff gives to worthy medical students each year. Her job description has been chang­ed by the hospital administration. She is no longer supposed to be doing the things she has done for the medical staff for the last 17 years. She has outlasted every other secretary in the hospital. She has gone above and beyond on many occasions, quietly and efficiently. 

She is due to retire shortly. The glue that holds our hospital’s medical staff together is about to be dissolved. By the time we realize what we have lost, it will be too late. From one dinosaur to another: Have a well-deserved retirement, Marcy. You have certainly earned it. We will all miss you. It won’t be same around here any more. 
—DBC

David B. Chapman, MBChB. The end of an era. BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 9, November, 2010, Page(s) 433 - Editorials.



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