Portland, Maine — Recently I got a phone call from my personal physician, Myron Krueger of Brunswick, Maine, who wanted to let me know that he was retiring. This was a surprising call as I never thought about the possibility that he could retire. Myron is in a category of physician that I call “legendary.” In my view, a legendary physician has old school attributes and has dedicated themselves to a life work and calling that goes beyond shifts and appointment times. Always on call 24/7, these legends use their God-given talent any time of day, at any place where there is a need, without regard to a patient's background, or status in life.
As I thought about how fortunate I am to have worked with several legendary physicians, my mind quickly thought of two other doctors in the same category as Dr. Krueger.
There's the phenomenal heart surgeon, Jorge Garcia, who to this day still maintains an active practice in the Washington D.C. area as well as Manila and has saved thousands of lives. Jorge, who performed the first heart transplant in the Philippines, is the founder of Asian Hospital in Manila.
The other legend that came to my mind was Dr. Robinson of the SDA Clinic in Guam. Recently Dr. Robinson returned to Guam to serve after spending a couple years in the State of Washington. His return to the wonderful SDA Clinic there is good news for the residents of Guam, where there is a real shortage of physicians.
Michael Robinson first arrived on Guam in 1998 after completing a residency-in-family practice at Florida Hospital. A graduate of the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University, Dr. Robinson began seeing patients at the SDA Clinic in Guam that has a wonderful history and tract record of service to the residents of Guam.
Since 1998, Dr. Robinson has seen thousands of patients on Guam and served for many years as the SDA Clinic's medical director. Using his clinical competence, along with a dedication to his profession and a passion for service, this is truly a rare combination in today's world.
I had the privilege of working with Dr. Robinson for three years, and I can tell you Dr. Robinson has those old school attributes and has dedicated himself to a life work and calling. He uses his God-given talent anywhere to help a fellow human being in need without regard to the time of day, the number of hours in the day already worked, or the patient's status in life.
In the U.S., as physicians like Dr. Krueger, Dr. Robinson and Dr. Garcia retire, many times it will take one and a half to two (or more) additional full-time doctors to fill the shoes of these extremely effective and wonderful practitioners.
I have a future story planned for some of my experiences with Dr. Garcia., but this story today is about a legendary physician who just retired in Maine.
I had the opportunity to work for over 10 years with the legendary Myron Krueger, an internist in Brunswick, who for decades never turned a patient away, and was in his office or seeing his patients in the hospital every day of the year at Parkview Adventist Medical Center (where another legend, Dr. Alice Cunningham had delivered over 10,000 babies). The only exception was when he was on "vacation" during one of his biannual mission trips to Mexico.
During his Mexico "vacations," he would be up with the rising sun over the Atlantic Ocean preparing to see the hundreds of patients who would line up at the temporary clinic he would set up. Myron would be at the clinic the entire day until every patient was seen.
It was hard to get Dr. Kruger away from his office or making rounds at the hospital where he began practice in 1970. One day I was able to talk Dr. Kruger into going to Boston with me for a meeting.
I'll never forget this trip. On our way to the meeting in Boston, I asked Myron if he minded me stopping at a new Krispy Kreme Donut Shop that had just opened on Rt. 1, but only if the “hot” sign was on (signifying the glazed donuts would be coming right off the line, hot, where they melt in your mouth).
The health-conscious Dr. Krueger politely said it was fine to stop, but that he wasn't that keen on donuts and would respectfully decline my invitation for any samples. I myself could never consume less than six of these beauties when they were truly hot. So on a hunch, I ordered a box of 12 and put them on the center console of my Toyota Highlander.
Rudely perhaps, I popped the first two in my mouth in rapid succession. I then said to Myron: "You're welcome to try one.” Out of respect for our friendship, Dr. Krueger politely took a napkin and picked up one of these gems.
Before we were on the Bunker Hill bridge the box was empty and I had only had four!
Dr. Krueger was my personal physician for many years until retiring earlier this summer. During the time that I was under his care, he continually kept watch on my health status, and through his positive friendly wellness talks, was able to keep my weight and overall health indicators in check even with my tenancies to have too many donuts and other sweets.
I have always taken these doctors and others like them for granted. And so I want to publicly say “thank you” to these extraordinary practitioners, and the many others like them, who make this world a better place.
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Theodore Lewis is former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a healthcare consulting business based out of Portland, Maine. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.