A Country Doctor
Anyone who has
spent any time in the Emergency Room at Framingham
or Milford or
Leonard Morse knows they were not there for the free water or TV. They are
there because they or a loved one has a medical problem that can’t be remedied
with two Alka-Seltzers or a Band-Aid. All these hospitals provide crucial
urgent care and provide the best services available, but despite the bright
colors and magazines in the waiting room they still feel cold and impersonal.
out all the forms and establishing who is going to pay for this unplanned trip,
the patient will see a Triage Nurse on an “urgency basis”. You know what that
means: Patient “A” comes in with a broken nose, and you have a sore throat.
Have a chair. You will be there for a while.
So what you ask?
Everyone must deal with this from time to time. The “what” is: Times have
changed. It wasn’t that long ago when all you had to do was call the local
doctor, a country doctor for a lot of us, and he or she would squeeze you in
between regularly scheduled patient appointments. Today’s visit is about one
The year is 1946
and the country is looking forward to a new era. WWII is over, and the troops
are returning to civilian life. Dr. Gain was the local doctor in Ashland for many years
and he was retiring soon. There was only one physician in town and the need for
a replacement was crucial. Fortunately for the town, Dr. Charles Morgan, a
native of New England and a graduate of Kansas City
University medical school, returned
and settled in Ashland.
Dr. Morgan took over the practice and set up shop on Main St.
My memory of Dr.
Morgan was that of a man more like your dad than a doctor. He always had his
glasses half hanging off his head as he scanned the hand written records of you
before an examination. Most procedures could be performed right in his office
too. Blood work for testing was taken right there, along with simple casts and
braces for broken fingers and sprains. He was also the doctor for the schools
which meant there were a lot of athletes in and out of the office. I would be
in the waiting room and could hear him admonishing the boys for doing stupid
things on the ball field, but always with a smile and a pat on the back before
Dr. Morgan limited
his practice to Ashland.
In an interview with The South Middlesex
News in 1976, he said “you can’t spread yourself all over the country.” and
he didn’t. He was on staff at Framingham
and served as a director for Bethany Hospital in Framingham,
but his focus was primarily on Ashland.
He was a true home town country doctor.
Time goes on as
we all know, and that same year would also be his last. After 30 years of bandages
and prescriptions, Dr. Morgan joined the Air Force as a flight surgeon with the
rank of lieutenant colonel. He moved his
“practice” to a MATS base in Charlestown,
I’m sure he
lamented the move to some degree. He felt especially bad for the elderly who
now needed to find a physician out of town. During the interview with Adam
Couture from The South Middlesex News
he cited a “four-fold jump in my malpractice insurance premiums last year”
along with the rising consumerism movement as motivation for moving on. The
insurance increase I understand, but the rising consumerism movement has me a
bit baffled unless he saw the movement as driving the insurance companies to
make him provide more for less. I always thought he was doing that already.
Regarding the military, he said the armed forces “make an effort to provide a
standard of living roughly equivalent” to that of their civilian counterparts.
He went on to say the Fed pays malpractice insurance and a pension plan which
he found attractive.
Today his office
on Main Street
is occupied by Doctors Pat and Dom Chira. The inside looks pretty much like it
did when we visited Dr. Morgan, and the outside is nicely landscaped. If you
listen while sitting in the waiting room you might still hear the laugh of Dr.
Morgan giving Penny or Gail a hard time!
Sources: Adam Couture, The South Middlesex
Special thanks to Jerry Bunker
for material and pictures for this article.
Steve Leacu for Directions