Looking through a short book entitled “Transactions of the Hempstead Memorial Academy of Medicine” is kind of like reading an abbreviated history of Portsmouth and Scioto County.
Either that, or a local road atlas. Names such as “Kinney,” “Waller,” and “Micklethwaite” are quite common. Other names appear multiple times as well, names such as “Daehler” and “Martin.”
The same is true of the companion volume entitled “Minutes of the Hempstead Academy of Medicine.” Both are meant to memorialize and serve as histories of the Hempstead Academy of Medicine, the forerunner to the Scioto County Medical Society, which after roughly 60 years of existence will cease operations at the end of November.
A few minor tidbits from the first book might include the cost of an office visit as of May 30, 1868. Your first doctor visit on that date would have set you back a whopping $2. In September 1882, a Dr. Davison reported a fatal case of “paralysis of the heart.” That same month, Dr. Gibson talked about a case of “confinement” followed by fever, delirium, and, once again, death.
In July 1888, 40 people died during an epidemic of influenza in Rarden. Treatments listed for typhoid included milk and whiskey, buttermilk, chewing gum for dry mouth, ice cream, beef juice, barley water, and cornmeal.
Although she is not related to the Dr. George Martin mentioned in both histories, Grace B. Martin has been Executive Director of the medical society since 2002. (Grace B. Martin was the wife of Dr. Robert E. Martin who passed in 1979 but who undoubtedly was a member of the organization his wife ended up leading after being a longtime member of the society’s Women’s Auxiliary.)
During a joint interview session for this story, Grace B. Martin at one point stated she felt like a failure because the organization is folding. Doctors George White and William Daehler, both longtime society members, immediately disputed her assertion. At various times, all three said consolidation of medical services helped make the society somewhat superfluous, as did the advent of the Internet.
Social activities certainly were a big part of the society. For example, Daehler talked about yearly picnics attracting between 75 to 100 people. Martin organized yearly retreats to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. Daehler mentioned the society met for nearly four decades at Shawnee Lodge for weekend seminars which drew physicians from all over, including from out-of-state. But the main purpose of the society was to advance the medical knowledge of its members.
For many years, Martin organized weekly Grand Rounds, basically a weekly lecture on some medical topic or another. Early on during her tenure as director, the events would attract standing room only crowds. Doctors would earn continuing education credits for their attendance. However, physicians now can earn needed credits at their own pace on their own time over the Internet. Attendance at weekly Grand Rounds dropped precipitously.
Regarding medical consolidation, both White and Daehler said solo practitioners are becoming a thing of the past as doctors are almost required to be connected with some institution such as the Southern Ohio Medical Center. Hospitals such as SOMC or Kings Daughters provide medical and office staff for their physician employees. For his part, white said he didn’t mind the extra work of hiring and managing his own staff. He enjoyed the freedom afforded by a solo practice.
With regard to the medical society, doctors often would discuss various cases during society events. Daehler talked about holding events in the homes of individual doctors. Meetings sometimes even included the patients involved. Such meetings involving patients would be illegal nowadays. In any case, doctors working at SOMC, for example, have plenty of opportunities to consult with other doctors. The Internet also plays a part, allowing doctors to easily look up the latest information online.
The early Hempstead Academy actually began life as the Scioto County Medical Society. The organization eventually incorporated, and the name was changed back to Scioto County Medical Society. The trio interviewed were not entirely sure when it happened, but their best guesstimate was the late 60s or early 70s.
For her part, Martin will stay on through at least December to help shut down the society, especially closing out its financial obligations. Both White, 78, and Daehler, 93, said the society definitely will be missed. The organization currently is headquartered in what is known as Madonna Hall near the SOMC Life Center. Madonna Hall originally was a dorm for nursing students attending Mercy Hospital’s nursing school. Mercy Hospital long since merged with yet another local hospital to become SOMC. Martin stated she is not sure what’s going to happen to Madonna Hall, but she expects the building will be torn down. Martin further noted she has been busy and still is trying to find a home for the many records and extensive memorabilia the society has accumulated over the years.
“I’m really going to miss this place,” Martin said.
The current president of the medical society, dermatologist Ibrahim Zayneh, could not be reached for comment for this story.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.