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IWAS THE ONLY one of the children in my family who was born in a hospital. All three of my brothers were delivered at home.
The practice of medicine has changed greatly in my lifetime, including the way doctors see patients.
These days you can't just walk into a doctor's office and get seen. With rare exceptions, you've got to have an appointment.
You can either wait until you get an appointment or go to a hospital emergency room, which will cost an arm and a leg. But you do have a choice.
When I was a child, the doctor came to the patient. House calls, they were termed, and that's how doctors operated for centuries. The thinking was that if you're sick, you don't feel like going to the doctor's office. Doctors were compassionate in those days.
I remember when house calls transitioned into visits to the doctor. At first, physicians would do both--come to your home or see you at their office. Then, after a few years, house calls went the way of the dinosaur. You either made it to the doctor's office or you were out of luck.
There were few hospitals back then; the closest one to where I lived was 25 miles away and it did not have an emergency room. I'm not sure any hospitals did in those days.
In small towns like where I lived there were no specialists, only general practitioners. The ironic thing is that there were more GPs then than there are now--by far. I'm not sure how that happened.
There were also no appointments, at least at the doctors' offices I visited (being an accident-prone child with bad tonsils, I spent a great deal of time in waiting rooms).
Waiting rooms were aptly named in those days. When you went to the doctor before appointments, you did a great deal of waiting, much like going to a crowded emergency room today.
My Uncle Bill often served as the neighborhood taxi service and about once a week, it seemed, he was asked to drive some neighbor to the doctor's office. Occasionally, I went with him.
I distinctly recall dropping off an elderly lady at her doctor's office at about 8:30 one morning.
"Unless I call you, just pick me up at five," she said as she climbed out of Uncle Bill's old Desoto.