Housecalls With Something Extra
Seeing patients in their own homes gives you insights that an office visit, or even several office visits over long periods of time, can’t give you. From the pictures on their wall to the food in their refrigerator or the soundness of their house or the steepness of their driveway from their mailbox to their front door, you learn things about them that no amount of questioning in the office can teach you.
My first house call of the day he other day was right in town here in Caribou, on a street I have driven many times from Sleeper’s store to downtown. It was in a brick apartment building I never reflected much on. Stella Brown met me and Courtney, my assistant, in the lobby and pressed the buzzer to unlock the front door. She escorted us down the hall, past a dining room and seating areas to a very industrial looking elevator with gray wall-to-wall carpet on the walls.
“That’s unusual”, I said and touched the carpet, “a padded wall”.
“I know, this was the old hospital, Cary Memorial Hospital”, she explained, “built where Dr. Jefferson Carey’s home once stood”.
That’s who the current hospital on the Van Buren road is also named after. It was built in 1978. The building I was now learning about was completed in 1924, twelve years after his death.
“My apartment”, she added, “is on the top floor, where the maternity ward used to be”.
We got out of the elevator and passed a sun-drenched seating alcove. It is shared between all the tenants on that floor, she explained. She unlocked her apartment door and I entered a large room that could have been a delivery room almost a hundred years ago. Strangely enough, the building and her apartment didn’t feel that old; I would have guessed late 1940’s to have been its vintage, but that’s probably splitting hairs for anybody much younger than me.
Our visit was uneventful besides the history lesson I got out of it. But my second visit that day had more drama and actually gave me a chance to feel heroic.