Columns for The Lufkin News

History and Medicine in Angelina County

Posted Nov 01, 2016 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

I recently came into possession of Angelina County Medical Society meeting minutes dating back 80 years, from 1936 to 1954. These archives were kept by Dr. W. D. Thames. A walk down medical memory lane with these records is remarkable. Some facts are simply mundane. For example, dues in 1936 were $10.50 per member - $488 in today’s dollar. That makes our current County Medical Society dues of $100 seem like a bargain.

More fascinating to me is that even though the practice of medicine has changed profoundly over the last 80 years, little of the economics and politics of being a physician has changed. For example, charity care issues were documented back in 1937. We struggle with that today. The physician-patient relationship – what today would be assessed by patient satisfaction scores – was the topic of lectures in 1938.

The broad legislative issues on the table today are hardly different than those in 1938 when a Legislative Committee was appointed. Scope of practice issues with optometrists and chiropractors were discussed way back in 1941. In 1953, Dr. Arnett “encouraged members of our society to join the American Association of Physicians and surgeons, which is a political organization of doctors. Its purpose is to stop socialized medicine.” (What would they say now?)

Some issues from the past seem frankly quaint today. In 1952, Dr. Arnett was to appoint a committee to investigate a physician who took out an ad in the Lufkin Daily News, apparently quite the no-no at the time. The next month’s minutes document how that physician “apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again”. The Society even had a secret ballot to vote whether he was guilty or not guilty of advertising. He was acquitted on a 9 to 2 vote.

Admirably, the Angelina County Medical Society minutes also contain notable evidence of community involvement and civic leadership. In January, 1940, the Society was holding joint meetings with city and county officials and the Chamber of Commerce directors to discuss a federal aid program for the building of a county hospital. It was these very discussions that spurred local industry leaders to join together to build a new hospital. The legend we pass down is that in 1941, Arthur Temple, Sr., President of Southern Pine Lumber Company, W.C. Trout, President of Lufkin Foundry & Machine Company, E.L. Kurth, President of Southland Paper Mills, and Col. Cal C. Chambers, President of Texas Foundries, along with ten other businesses and industries, joined resources, refused federal funds, and raised one million dollars to build the non-profit Memorial Hospital (now CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial). But we have forgotten the groundwork was laid the previous year by the healthcare community, the city and county leaders, and the Chamber of Commerce, all working together. Such cooperation and leadership can still take place today.

Another more poignant event occurred in February, 1954. Then President Dr. Gail Medford “read a letter from the Negro Chamber of Commerce wanting help from the Angelina County Medical Society in their plan to improve sanitary conditions in the colored community. Drs. Taylor and Spivey, City and County health officers, were appointed to work with the colored organization.” We cringe now, thinking about Jim Crow segregation and disparities in neighborhood services and conditions. But do we recognize similar disparities in healthcare today? Are we addressing the needs of the indigent, uninsured and underserved populations among us? Is the medical community as approachable today as it apparently was in the segregated 1950s?

Technology has revolutionized healthcare over the last eighty years. But technology cannot replace the heart. Let us not forget our calling, our oath, and our love for the patient. The practice of medicine should never be just a job. It is a profession.

I invite everyone to the Salute to Healthcare banquet on Thursday, November 10, 2016. Help us recognize and honor those in our community who set the standard in healthcare and who are true to the calling – the profession – of medicine. Call the Chamber at 634-6644 for ticket information.

Your First Visit

What to expect on your first consultation

Get Started >

Centers

Learn about the Temple Cancer Center at CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial

See Our Center >

Radiation Therapy

Find answers to common questions about radiation therapy

View the FAQ >

Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist