Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dr. Beach Conger Retires #HartlandVT #VT #MtAscutneyHospital

June 18, 2015
Hartland, VT

Don't take it so serious! And Wear Pink! This was the advice given by retiring physician, author and educator Dr. Beach Conger Friday at the Sumner Mansion Inn in Hartland. Surrounded by hundreds of family, friends, colleagues and former patients, Beach said goodbye to 38 years of service to Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center (MAHHC.) He told the crowd that there are two characteristics of doctors (and anyone who has worked with doctors knows them well)-"they (doctors) are very sensitive, and they take themselves very seriously. Nobody will ever take you seriously in a pink tutu. The most satisfying thing about my life here in Windsor, at the hospital and in Hartland is all the people who've helped me not take myself so seriously."

Following an hour of hugs and tears and story telling, current CEO Kevin W. Donovan gathered folks in the library to thank Dr. Conger and to present him with a few gifts. “Beach is a role model, a mentor, and a Mt. Ascutney Hospital institution,” said CEO Kevin W. Donovan (in a press release), “and he is all of that because first and foremost he is an extraordinary doctor. He has treated thousands of patients here with his unique combination of intelligence, sensitivity, skill and unpredictable wit.” Donovan called Conger a "Superman" and gave him a Superman T-shirt signed by all the MAHHC staff. Next he presented a MAHHC chair to Conger. (These chairs are given to employees' with twenty years of service, this is Conger's second chair.) And finally, with great flourish, he whipped away a hospital gown and unveiled a photo of the doctors that first started the Medicine Group at MAHHC, Drs.: Marlene Sachs, Robert Wilson, Elvin Kaplan, Ken Morley, Beach Conger and Dale Gephart.

Dr. Richard Slusky, the CEO during the early Conger years made reference to many of the comical events perpetrated by Conger. His first impression of Dr. Conger was that of a take charge attitude displayed when it was discovered that the hospital had Legionnaires disease. Slusky arrived at MAHHC in April of 1982 and in August, the disease was discovered. Conger, assured Slusky this would be no problem, and promptly called the CDC. Within 24-48 hours the source was discovered. Conger helped educate the staff and community about the disease, and even wrote a song about it. Slusky also spoke about the time he walked into Conger's office and found a maggot farm. A board member at the time, Sid Hammond was interested in alternative medicine was exploring the use of Bee Sting Therapy, "not to be out done, Beach brought in a large aquarium filled (with maggots)" said Slusky. Conger was using them in the hospital to treat bed sores, "with pretty good results." Slusky was also a patient of Conger's and at one annual physical was told to give a blood and urine sample. A mild mannered lab tech approached Slusky after the "donations" and said that Dr. Conger said his (Slusky's) urine sample was insufficient and he'd have to give another one-at which time she removed a very large hypodermic needle from behind her back. Unable to keep up the ruse she burst out-Dr. Conger made me do this. These and many years of similar dealings with Beach helped "seasoned me as a hospital CEO!" Slusky laughingly to the group of well wishers.

Dr. Elvin Kaplan (who spent many years working with Beach to create Christmas Musicals) paid tribute in song. "...He likes to dance in the parade with glitzy shoes and pink tutus. In short, in matters medical, in sports or basic literature, you'll never find an equal to this general practitioner!"

"He's a great doctor, he was the go to person and when we had a need in the hospital, Beach was the person we would go to, he was always there. He was there for the community, he was a first responder when there was an accident or incident in town. He would be there. And he made Mount Ascutney Hospital very special" said Dr. Slusky.

Born in New York City in 1941 and a 1967 graduate of Harvard Medical School, Conger began practicing general internal medicine at Mt. Ascutney Hospital in 1977. He was a founding member of the Mt. Ascutney Medical Group. He has also served as an adjunct professor with the Dartmouth Medical School, and is a published author of such books as national best-seller "Bag Balm and Duct Tape" (1989), all written about the experiences of a small-town country doctor.

More images from the event: http://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/VermontStandard/June-2015/Dr-Beach-Conger-Retires/

Dr. Beach Conger Retirement
Hosted Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center
Sumner Mansion Inn
Hartland , VT June 18, 2015
Copyright ©2015 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
www.photosbynanci.com
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