News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007


Doctors’ retiring just doesn’t seem fair

People want their family doctor to help keep them well, then most of us get upset if he or she retires before we check out.

That’s happening at our house. Dr. James Hunter is retiring at the end of this month after practicing internal medicine for 40 years.

Regina and I have been Jim’s patients for a quarter century, and it’s tough to be booted out. (Jim says 25 years sounds better.)

It’s not easy on Jim either. He doesn’t worry about us, he said, because he predicted we’d find another doctor willing to take us. It’s his older patients, those who felt totally lost when the retirement notice went out, that he worries about most, probably more than about his own health.

Dr. George Hansberry, who is also retired, is one of my closest friends. He’s always joked that he was my backup doctor because he wasn’t good enough to be my physician. He was good enough, to be sure, but Jim was my doctor before George was my friend. And I’ve liked having two doctors, both from the old school of medicine.

Some friends who have had to switch to younger doctors would define the old school physicians as those who take phone calls, prescribe medicine over the phone, say, “Come on in I need to see you today,” and those who sit and talk until your concerns are satisfied.

Doctors age along with their patients and we’ve watched each other pick up ailments and overcome problems during those 25 years. Regina and I are as concerned about Jim as he’s been about us over the years.

He inherited us from a former partner who explained that, “You will like Jim. It’s a good fit.”

It has been, and we hope it will con-
tinue to be for many years, even in his retirement.

My parting words to Jim after each of 25 annual physical examinations has been that he’s the best because he never finds much wrong with my health.

He still is the best.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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