Doctors, Nurses Remember

Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), founded by a group of visionary women in a farmhouse at the corner of Franklin and Cathedral streets, celebrates its 100th birthday this year. The first patient, a man suffering from typhoid fever, was admitted on July 18, 1902. That day marked the beginning of AAMC's steady evolution from a cottage hospital to its current status as a state-of-the-art regional health care center.

The story of AAMC's first 100 years is a fascinating chronicle of shifting socioeconomic conditions and social change as well as the staunch support of the local community-its people, its churches, its businesses, its civic organizations, its newspaper. It was this unswerving community commitment that struck Catherine H. Avery, co-author of A Century of Caring, a just-published history of AAMC from 1902 to the present. Avery, a medical journalist, had the task of updating the 90-year history written by Annapolis historian Jane W. McWilliams.

With input from a Centennial Book Committee chaired by Becki Kurdle, the decision was made to introduce each decade with an interview with community members associated with a particular period in the hospital's history. Book designer Bob Madden paired full-page portraits of each individual with memories that span a century.

Listen to their voices...

Peg Wohlgemuth Burroughs, niece and namesake of Margaret Wohlgemuth, R.N., hospital superintendent 1915-1917; daughter of Veronica Fitzgerald, R.N., hospital nurse 1918-1923:
"My grandparents moved to Annapolis in 1901 and opened a bakery on Main Street. My mother and my aunt both were nurses at the hospital. All the nurses worked 12-hour shifts. They were paid $100 a month, including meals and lodging. The nurses did a little bit of everything. Patients were very appreciative of the care they received!"

Dr. Emily Wilson, first female physician in southern Anne Arundel County (1929), medical staff president (1953):
"Most days I saw patients in my office in the morning, then went to the hospital to see my patients there. Then I'd go to patients' homes in the afternoon. Sometimes patients would come to my home at night. I charged $1 for an office visit, $4 for a home visit and $15 to deliver a baby. I sure didn't get rich. But it was a good lifeit's what I always wanted to do."

Bee Hiltabidle, mother of retired AAMC surgeon Steve Hiltabidle, AAMC auxiliary member since 1950; auxiliary president, 1952: "Annapolis residents always have been willing to help at the hospital. We had a fundraiser around 1940 to raise money for a new building. Most people were very generous. Out of that effort, the auxiliary (started) in 1944. People especially wanted to help with the hospital because it's so important."

Dr. Frank Shipley, established medical practice in Annapolis, 1949; medical staff president, 1956-1958:
"When I came to the hospital in 1949, it was a small place, just 60 beds or so. I became the first local chief of medicine in 1952 and resigned in 1961. During that time we brought a number of new doctors into the hospital. Later on, a number of medical subspecialists came to town, too- cardiologists Gerry Church and Bob Bierne, anesthesiologist Jack Lyons and oncologist Stan Watkins, to name a few."

Faye Watson Allen, established family medicine practice in Annapolis with husband Dr. Aris T. Allen, 1950; joined medical staff, 1955; mother of Aris T. Allen Jr., Anne Arundel Health System board of trustees, 2000-present:
"We had our medical office in Annapolis near the Church Circle post office, and we saw patients there or in their homes. It was a really difficult time. As a woman, it was tough, but it was doubly hard as a black woman. But things smoothed out after awhile. Annapolis was a good place to practice medicine and a good place to live."

Chuck Brunetto, joined AAMC in 1959, became administrator in 1979, hospital president 1988-1994, retired 1996: "We were the first non-teaching hospital in the U.S. to have 24-hour coverage in the Coronary Care Unit. The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about it. We also went out of our way to keep our patients comfortable with air conditioning, electric beds, television, gourmet meals, etc. We provided more R.N. hours per patient than any hospital in the state."

Dr. Richard N. Peeler, established medical practice, 1957; medical staff president, 1969-1971; father of Dr. Mark O. Peeler, AAMC vascular surgeon:
"We were able to attract top doctors because we were near Baltimore and Washington, where a lot had trained. These new doctors brought with them new skills and techniques. Everybody worked together to find inventive ways to expand hospital services."

Nancy Achenback, R.N., pediatric nurse, 1953-1998; auxiliary member, 1997-present; mother of Juli Pastrana, R.N., and Donna Forrester, both of whom are with AAMC's Center for Joint Replacement:
"There were a lot of good nurses who laid the groundwork for nursing as it is today at AAMC. I loved going to work. I still think about many of my patients. I wouldn't want to do anything else but be a nurse."

John "Jock" Hopkins, lifelong Annapolitan, board of managers and board of trustees member, 1985-present:
"A hospital is like a three-legged stool. It takes the medical staff, the administration and the board to work properly. One party gets an idea and the other two help decide if it's in the best interests of the community. Sometimes there's a lot of discussion about a particular issue, but people always agree when it comes down to the mission of the hospital and community health."

Martin L. "Chip" Doordan, joined hospital as administrative resident, 1972; AAMC president, 1988-present; AAHS president, 1994-present: "We'll face key challenges in the years ahead. We'll have to continue to make the best use of our financial resources to meet the needs of an aging population. We'll have to keep up with the latest medical developments and meet the challenges of staff shortages. It's a time to look forward. A century of achievement sets a challenge to perform even better in the next."

A Century of Caring, by Catherine H. Avery and Jane W. McWilliams. Designed by Bob Madden, 208 pp., illustrated, $29.99 soft cover, $39.99 hard cover. Available in hospital gift shop or by phone (443-481-5062). Visa/Mastercard.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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