The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 5, 1986 · Page 25
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 25

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 5, 1986
Page 25
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Great Plains The Salina Journal Sunday, January 5,1986 Page 25 ir APPY RETIREMENT DOZIER . „ .•i"--«'C-'i"v ? jss*'Sfcs, i.... Dr. Fred Dozier receives a hug from registered nurse Carmelita Sullivan, one of many guests at a retirement open house for the Herington doctor. Final office visit HERINGTON — Fred Dozier seemed almost embarrassed by the attention. "I don't know what to do with myself," he said to no one in particular. The room was filled with flowers and well-wishers. The well-wishers filed by Dozier one by one, shaking hands and hugging him. This was a last office visit to the doctor who delivered their children and tended their other medical needs for the better part of three decades. "I'll sure miss you," said Mrs. Harry Schlesener, a Dozier patient for more than 25 years. "How many times have you leaned over my bed when I was so sick I didn't know what to do? "You were always so kind. You always made me feel better." On Tuesday, the last day of the old year, Dozier ended a practice that spanned more than a half century. At 75, he hadn't planned to retire until later this year. But the expense of malpractice insurance changed his mind. "We carried insurance when I started in medicine, but the premium was only $40 a year," Dozier said. "Last year I paid $7,000 and this year it would have cost'me over $8,000.1 had planned to practice until July, but that meant I would have ended up paying $8,000 to practice for six months. It just wasn't worth it." Dozier, a native of Texas, was graduated from Baylor Medical College in 1934. He started a private practice in Dallas two years later. His decision to enter medicine came after studying mechanical engineering for two years at Texas A&M University. "I started college not really knowing what I wanted to do," Dozier remembered. "Also, I was a Depression kid and we were broke. Texas A&M seemed to be the most economical good school I could go to. I started out as a mechnical engineer. By my sophomore year I knew I was in the wrong field, but I didn't know what to change to." It was the medical emergency of an old friend that led to Dozier's discovery of medicine. The friend needed an ; operation for appendicitis and, because no close relatives were available, Dozier became his proxy guardian. "The whole thing fascinated me," he said. "The drama of the situation, the surgery. I knew for some reason or other that's where I needed to be — in that field. There was never a doubt." After working in Dallas for four years, Dozier went into military service — for one year. The assignment stretched to five years after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and America became involved in World War II. Dozier returned to Dallas after the war, but soon came to Herington at the request of a service friend, Dr. James 0. Gilliland, who was in practice here with his college roommate, Dr. Arthur Danielson. Dozier stayed here until 1962, when he again returned to Dallas, this time to take a residency in anesthesiology. He worked in Texas until the death of Danielson in 1970. "Herington had a great need of another doctor and Dr. Gilliland again convinced me I should return," Dozier said. As a general practitioner and anesthetist, he has seen many changes during his career. He remembers the fear caused by epidemics. In the late 1940s, before vaccine became common, Dozier and his two partners treated 42 cases of polio. "For this small area, that's really horrible," Dozier said. "It ended with crippling in every instance and death in a few... "Polio used to be so destructive every summer that doctors and parents alike were alarmed everytime a child or adult had a respiratory infection.... It sometimes struck the strongest. Polio didn't always strike the weak." Pneumonia outbreaks also were pretty much eliminated with the discovery of new drugs. "We used to have pneumonia epidemics every winter in which almost 20 percent of the people would die," Dozier said. Tremendous advancements also have been made in the fields of anesthesiology and the treatment of heart disease. Dozier said the strides in anesthesiology made possible the other because they allowed doctors to keep a patient asleep longer. ' 'Doctors were able to do surgery they hadn't be able to do before," Dozier said. "We saw heart patients receiving valve replacements and transplants, all after the improvements in anesthesia." Dozier said another change has been \fi the public's attitude toward doctors, a subject that takes him back to the topic of malpractice insurance. "A generation ago, the doctor was someone to be admired. He was a friend of the family," Dozier said. "Today people expect the medical profession to do the impossible. They expect doctors to be beyond mistakes "A patient should have a right to address a just grievance, but it has just gone too far. It's just ridiculous. And it's not necessarily the bad doctors who get sued; it's the good ones, too." Dozier said attorneys who take malpractice suits on a contingency basis, and the news media, which report large settlements, have contributed to the problem. "They think we make a lot of money and can't be hurt by the suits," Dozier said. "But you have to put that in perspective. We make a good living, but most doctors are not wealthy." Despite his Texas roots, Dozier considers Herington home. It's where his three children were reared; it's where he and his wife, Dorothy, plan to spend their retirement years. "The chief difference (between Dallas and Herington) is you get to know all your patients pretty well in a smaller town. In fact, I consider my patients my friends here. It's more impersonal in the larger city." Story by Linda Mowery-Denning Photos by Craig Chandler Suckers normally reserved for the doctor's good patients were available at the open house. The examination table has a new Job of holding extra cookies. Another doctor teases Dozier that he now has time to study malpractice law

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