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Doctor recalls days when specialists were rare in county

When Dr. Glen E. Miller graduated medical school and was convinced to come practice medicine in Logan County, general family practice was the only way to go.

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Mary Rutan Health Association conducted its annual meeting Monday at the Crossroads Business Center. ABOVE: Dr. Glen E. Miller, left, receives the external meritorious service award from Mary Rutan Health Association chairman Nancy Knight. (EXAMINER PHOTO | RUEBEN MEES)

But he quickly learned that wasn’t what was needed and decided to help shape the way this community would move into the future of medicine.

“When I first came to Logan County, I went to the chamber of commerce to check on the area,” Dr. Miller said after receiving Mary Rutan Hospital Association’s external meritorious service award during the group’s annual meeting Monday evening.

“They asked what type of medicine I was in and I said I was a general family practitioner. They said ‘Oh. We need specialists.’ ”

He had been invited by Dr. Paul Hooley to help found Oakhill Medical Associates in 1965, which later became the first sizable medical group practice in Logan County.

“Except for one sub-specialist in ophthalmology, Mary Rutan Hospital, like most small community hospitals of the mid-1960s, consisted of dedicated physicians, representing family medicine and general surgery,” current association chairman Nancy Knight said during Dr. Miller’s introduction. “There were no other specialties included at that time. ... Quality trained hospital administrators were also few in number.”

So Dr. Miller, along with Drs. Harry Graber, Grant Varian, Evan Dixon, Dave Miller and Tom Franklin, “started looking at exactly what the community needed,” the award recipient said.

And what they found was the first hospital administrator, Ewing H. Crawfis.

And they began recruiting specialists in the areas of radiology and cardiology.

But it was a difficult process in the early years, as one frustration after another kept the group of doctors from recruiting the right set of specialists to meet the area’s needs.

“I was out kicking my tires again,” Dr. Miller said of a radiologist who died about two years after he had been drawn to Mary Rutan. “It was a struggle.

“We started recruiting younger physicians and they brought a new energy and a new way of doing things,” he said.

And in 1971, Dr. Miller returned to medical school to receive a specialty in internal medicine.

“Upon returning in 1973, he exercised a leading role in initiating quality education for the medical staff,” Mrs. Knight said in her introduction. “He played a key role in peer review matters, restructuring of the medical by-laws, and in 1989 became MRH’s first formally employed medical director.”

Although he left in 1990 to pursue international missionary work in Egypt, India, Cambodia and London before retiring to Goshen, Ind., the doctor is impressed with the way the local community has continued to pursue the goals they had set decades ago.

“What I want to emphasize is the progress that has been made,” Dr. Miller said. “We wanted to improve quality and to the credit of our medical staff, we started emphasizing that quality is everybody’s business.”

And after two life-threatening cardiac arrest incidents in his more recent life, the doctor is convinced he still has some purpose to fulfill.

“I have taken the attitude, there must still be a reason I am still here,” he said. “I also have a feeling I must justify the reason I am walking the earth, and I think we all must justify the reason we are still on this earth.”

And returning to Logan County to receive this award may be among those purposes.

“This is such a great honor because it was such a big part of our lives,” Dr. Miller said. “It was a wonderful place to work and for our children to grow up.

“To come back and see not only my old friends, but the progress that has been made, is wonderful. Those long nights and days are entirely vindicated.”

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