Doctors and their medical staffs are all the talk these days, as they are the front line in our war with this thing called Covid-19. America has always enjoyed a love for their doctors, never more so than now as they risk their very being in the treatment and care of their patients. Today, I am going to share my first significant experience with a doctor that I will never forget.
I was a skinny, 10 year old kid enjoying life on a small cotton and tobacco farm in rural South Carolina when, quite suddenly, I felt terrible. Nausea set in and the dull but prominent pain in my abdomen led to a trip to a small clinic staffed by two doctors located in the nearby community of Marion, SC. I was introduced to Dr. Finger, a surgeon and Dr. Ira Barth a family care specialist. An examination and test or two later and I was scheduled for surgery to remove the appendix, which had decided to go it’s own way. The surgery was uneventful, although the recovery was hampered by a jump off the back porch loosening a few stitches and causing some concern to the elders.
At the age of 10, I was hooked on all things medicine related. Dr. Barth was a big guy, jocular and easy in manner. I thought then, and still do today, that he was ideally suited to the practice of medicine. This story is about the good doctor.
Dr, Barth was born in 1929. He was an excellent student and was admitted to the Citadel where he further distinguished himself, before attending and graduating from the Chicago Medical School. He then completed post graduate study at the University of South Carolina and Duke University. In short order he became the Chief of Staff at the growing Finger Clinic before entering a family practice until his early death in 1988. As doctors often do, Dr. Barth was deeply involved in the community. He was a Free Mason, served on the Board of two boy’s homes and the Camden Military Academy. The doctor served as the Marion Police Commissioner, a city councilman and a State Highway Commissioner. He was a prominent designee in Who’s Who in Southern medicine and won numerous other medically related awards. He also served on the Boards of several medical organizations and was a member of the Israeli Medical Association. You get the picture, he left a wake in so many seas of life.
All of these accolades aside, he was also a doctor who would quiz me on the placement of organs and the physiology of human beings as a result of my fascination with a Renwal Visable Man, a clear plastic human likeness that you placed the organs in after painting them in appropriate colors. He laughed easily and was “the Doctor” to so many in the community who placed their lives in his hands. He possessed excellent judgement and could and did render opinions about the maintenance of life outside the medical setting.
Doctors, in most parts of America are easily accessed. We tend to take them for granted until we really need them. I would not be sitting here writing this today, were it not for the skills and God given ability of several surgeons and family practitioners. These folks don’t simply possess the mental capability to complete the rigorous study, they also possess the discipline to follow through. Then comes the interaction with the people they serve, a trying circumstance, particularly in the environment that has prompted this writing.
Dr. Ira Barth was one of a kind…….but aren’t all doctors? Offer a prayer….today they need the wind at their back and God’s calming influence.
Have a good weekend, as you enjoy becoming a movie critic courtesy of Netflix and Prime!