When I was doing my Surgical Training at Emory/Grady in the early 70′s, Cathy and I moved to Mountain Park in Gwinnett County, a small community between Stone Mountain Park and Snellville.
I used to commute to Grady every day but could make it in about 20 minutes in my 72 Mustang Mach I. Not too much traffic on Highway 78 at that time and the Stone Mountain Freeway had just been completed (only two lanes to Snellville and Scenic Hwy to Lawrenceville).
If I had to make a middle of the night emergency run to Grady or the VA Hospital, Cathy would call ahead to the Dekalb County Police and let them know that I would be hauling down Stone Mountain Freeway and that I had a medical emergency and to please not stop me. I never did get stopped (for that anyway).
In those days, it was allowable for the Grady Surgical Residents to supplement their income (our pay as a Surgical Resident then was about $7,500 / year) by moonlighting in the emergency rooms in the surrounding areas of Atlanta.
Sometimes I worked 20-22 nights per month after my day at Grady by covering from 7 PM to 6 AM the emergency rooms of Joan Glancy Hospital in Duluth, Buford General Hospital in Buford, Button Gwinnett Hospital in Lawrenceville, and Forsyth County Hospital in Cumming since there were no full time emergency room doctors yet.
I was in charge of staffing the ER’s of these hospitals from 1974-1976 with my fellow Grady residents. Great training, (I even delivered a baby in OR #2 at Joan Glancy Hospital in 1976 when I was a chief resident in ENT)! We took care of a lot of trauma then and didn’t really worry about AIDS, Hepatitis exposure, or MRSA.
This exposure and great relationship with the doctors of this area made it a natural for me to stay with my family and set up a practice in this area since there were no Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians or plastic surgeons in the county at that time.
There were no MD Anesthesiologists in Gwinnett or Forsyth Counties at that time either, until the early 1980′s, but that job was most capably handled by the most amazing group of Nurse Anesthetists I have ever known and respected in my life.
There was no cautery used at that time in surgery for tonsillectomies and I don’t think that gloves were worn all the time for these non-sterile procedures either.
When I set my practice up in Gwinnett County in 1976, I believe that the population was only about 180,000 for the county, multiples of that now.
I was on the Steering Committee of founding the Emory Eastside Hospital in Snellville (then known as Gwinnett Community Hospital) in 1979, there were only seven doctors on that committee. I believe there are close to 500 doctors on that staff now.
When I started my practice, there were only two medical insurance companies, Blue Cross/ Blue Shield and Medicare.
I think that I now participate on over 100 different insurance plans. Great progress, right?
I’ll keep adding to this section periodically as I ask my colleagues what they remember about the early days working from the shoulders of the giants like Drs. Miles Mason Jr, George Tootle, John Pyron, Cecil Miller, Gene Kennedy, Tom Wages, Rupert Bramblett, Tom Hamilton, Dan Martin, Fayette Sims Jr, George Ezzard, Sterling Harris, Donald Dove, Jim and Mark Mashburn, Bob Dunn in Cumming, Ed Bowen, Bill Martin, Norman Fried, and Taher Bagheri in Snellville.
Thanks to all of these guys for paving the way for us!