A message from Marty Guthmiller, CEO …
When we opened our new hospital and clinic in 2006 and again, when we opened Prairie Ridge Care Center in 2013, we emphasized that “brick and mortar” do not provide care, people care for people. Over the years, OCAHS has been blessed with many talented folks who have sacrificed much to care for those in need. Often, this commitment spans several decades. George DeVries fits both of these criteria. As you will note from the memo below, George has been providing anesthesia and pain management services here in Orange City since 1981 and has made the decision to retire. George’s reflection of a career in rural anesthesia speaks for itself. As important as his skill set though, is the person and the manner in which he cared for patients, family and staff. We have indeed been blessed by many caring individuals over our history and must never take that for granted. Thank you, George, and on behalf of everyone at OCAHS, congratulations and best wishes in retirement!
Retiring is usually a big deal. At least, it is for the person retiring. But besides all the other stuff, it can also allow a rare but appropriate opportunity to publicly give some thank-you’s while being a bit reflective at the same time. My thankfulness on one hand was for spending most of my career in my own home town working among and with some very good people and practitioners. And, on the other hand, there is thanks for being able to retire — now completely in 2019 — in a step-wise fashion since January of 2016.
From a sole anesthesia-provider’s perspective in 1981 when I arrived, the hospital has grown to a busy, three-person anesthesia department with a complementary and growing pain-management service. Stable and growing hospital departments, with added services, do not occur in a vacuum these days. They grow out of a general culture of community cooperation and caring, attention to regional needs; stable, skilled practitioners, and far-sighted leadership. For all of this and more, the OCAHS holds a very dear place in my heart.
Anesthesia is a necessary service provided for patients and for the surgeons who operate on them. The three current anesthesia providers reflect the significant growth over the years of both the surgery and labor-and-delivery services in the OCAHS. From a lone surgeon, Dr. Ed Grossman Jr. in the early eighties when I arrived, to the current, local surgeons, Drs. Steve Locker, Brent Nykamp, Kurt Korver, and multiple other surgical specialties, the surgical volume has grown with the expanding needs of our community and the immediate region.
Nearly four decades in a hospital as an anesthesia care-giver, most of it solo, is uncommon; mostly because nothing, including our lives stays the same. . Things change. For a work place to remain environmentally suitable and sufficiently rewarding over several decades is a rare thing. Over the course of my training and career, I’ve had experiences in two large, tertiary, trauma centers, a mid-sized regional center, and three other smaller community or municipal hospitals. When considering all the significant aspects of a hospital and staff, none of those in my opinion measures up to the OCAHS and what it has become.
The last century, indeed the last couple of generations have seen exponential increases in knowledge and technology. This is true about most things of course but certainly is true of all aspects of medicine. In 1981, on a back shelf in the old Orange City Municipal hospital, there was an old, partial can of ether, a ‘40’s — 50’s era anesthetic, long since out of general use and for good reasons (I even thought the odor was faintly noticeable on entering the hospital when I first arrived in ‘81). Eventually, it came home with me and enabled me to remove an imbedded seed from my dog’s eye (It worked but like all human patients, retching and vomiting was my dog’s sole activity for the next couple of hours).
Also, in one of the old OR’s was an equally old anesthesia machine with a Copper Kettle vaporizer, a 1950’s design that in 1981 had already become a relic. And back then — the 1950’s through the early 1980’s — there was really just a handful of injectable drugs and inhalation agents. But they made up about every general anesthetic given and none were without significant problems or disadvantages compared to those of today. There are now whole genres of drugs specifically synthesized for anesthesia and the demands of all kinds of surgery; they are much more controllable and patient-friendly with fewer side effects than those not-so-golden-oldies. The same goes for techniques and equipment; for example, sophisticated anesthesia machines now have computer chips, sensors, word processors, multiple monitors, and much, much more; all told, one of these machines can now equal or exceed the cost of two new Range Rovers.
The year 2005 saw the move from the small Orange City Municipal hospital building to our present beautiful facility, a facility that as strikingly handsome as it is, is really only a part of what is the OCAHS. I say “a part” because as important, comfortable, and well-thought out as this facility is, the staff is even more important. The OCAHS is truly blessed with the health-care providers, and other supportive staff it has. In addition to my love for “giving anesthesia,” they made it a joy to come to work each day (even most nights). In my case, this is especially true of the excellent SDS, OR, and ER nursing staff.
As I anticipate complete retirement now, I could share many anecdotes about people and experiences from my thirty-seven years in our regional hospital. My mind is flooded with the images involving both patients and working together with staff. At the risk of leaving out some names I shouldn’t, I would like to name a few who have been invaluable and instrumental to my career and to me personally — CEO Marty Guthmiller, Dr. Steve Locker, and before them, the late Dr. Ed Grossman Jr. They have been supporters, colleagues, and dear friends. Over the years, friends Ed, Steve, Kurt Korver and I have had many interesting and stimulating conversations. I would be reticent also to not mention Dr. Tom Jacobsen as not only an excellent orthopedic surgeon but a pure pleasure to work with over the years. Thank you very much gentlemen and thank you to all of the other OCAHS staff. I would not choose to have spent my career anywhere else.”
George De Vries lll, CRNA