Marjo asked me if I would speak today and I was glad to have the opportunity. I would like to talk a bit about the history of Penacook Family Physicians and to give thanks to the many people in Penacook who helped make it happen.
32 years ago, I was in my last year of residency at Lancaster General Hospital. My wife, Beth, and I were looking for a place to start a practice and toured through Maine, NH and Vermont. Our parameters where that it had to be within 2 hrs of Boston, have more than 2,000 people, and have a library and a racquetball court. We finally decided on Concord. We met with Dick Warner, Concord Hospital's administrator at that time and he told us that Penacook was looking for a Family Physician. He told us that Dr. McLeod, a GP, had stopped practicing in Penacook 5 years earlier and that at one time there had been 5 physicians in downtown Penacook. He guided us to Tom Watts, the dentist in Penacook who had set up practice 2 years earlier. After talking with Tom, we were convinced that Penacook was our town.
Tom and his wife, Helene, were overwhelmingly gracious. Over the next 9 months Beth and I along with our new born son, traveled from Pennsylvania to Penacook for 3 day weekends each month and stayed in their home while we tried to set up a practice. Tom introduced us to Bob Whitney, affectionately known as Eli, who was a general contractor in town and who many called the unofficial mayor of Penacook. I can say for sure that if it wasn't for the help of Eli and the Watts family, Penacook Family Physicians never would have happened. We looked for a suitable place to rent and soon realized that there were none to be had. We realized that we would have to buy a place and renovate ourselves. At the time interest rates were 21% and we didn't have a dime to our name. But, that didn't stop Eli. Eli found nine families in town who were willing to lend us $10,000 each in a low interest loan with nothing more to secure the loan than our big smiles and naive looks.
We found a huge old building in the center of Penacook that had been built as a hotel in 1840. We renovated what had been the restaurant part of the building for our office space knowing that we could invade into the rest of the building as we grew. Eli was indispensible. With us down in Pennsylvania, Eli took on the responsibility of doing everything needed to transform the space into an office. The space had had many lives over the years since 1840. It had been a restaurant several times, a TV store and amp meter factory just before we bought it.
Concord Hospital helped us also. They hired Tom Battles, a practice consultant to help with the logistics of finding the right equipment and filing for the correct licenses and such.
The town opened its arms to us. A party was held at the Community Center to introduce us to the families in town. Jim McKay and Pat Harbour, leaders of the "Ward 1 Concerned Citizens Council" held a reception for us at the local church hall inviting the towns people and even Governor Gallen. We found Penacook to be a place of warm, welcoming people who "took care of their own" and who considered travelling into Concord as a long distance trip.
We opened our doors on July 7th, 1980 and I shared call with Dr. Brian Carroll who had also just opened his doors in Hopkinton. To us, sharing call at the time meant being off call from 6pm to midnight every other Saturday and off from 9 AM to noon every other Wednesday. Like I said, I was naive!
Within 12 months I was over busy and started looking for a partner. Dr. Joel Berman joined me in 1982. We kept growing and in 1987, Dr. Carol Neigisch joined us. Subsequently, we have now grown to a practice of 6 physicians and 2 nurse practitioners.
We've also had a journey with respect to the business of medicine. It's hard to believe it now but when we first opened our doors it was cash and carry. We didn't accept any insurance although we would give patients advice on how they could fill out their insurance forms. Also, we wouldn't allow anyone to come in for a second visit until they paid for their first visit. I'm sure if I tried to do that now I'd probably lose my medical license and be put in jail.
In 1995 the physicians of Penacook Family Physicians sold their practice to Healthsource who was interested in setting up what they termed "centers of excellence". The laws changed over the next year, however, and Healthsource decided they no longer wanted to be in the business of owning physician's practices. They sold the practice to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center who owned us for 3 weeks before the Hospital negotiated for our practices. We have been employed by Concord Hospital ever since.
As an employed physician, I have nothing but the highest praise for Concord Hospital. They have created an excellent environment for us to practice medicine of the highest quality and have created a friendly, healthy environment for our employees.
With the recent addition of our two newer physicians and now the building of an up to date medical facility, Penacook Family Physicians is stable and ready to provide high quality care for many more years to come.