Harvey County after Indie – Billy Spurgeon
After Indie died, it was a rough go for medical care in Harvey County. There weren’t enough docs, and not as many young people were interested in rural life. Bones and Sharma shared call, and Dr. Cecil and his partner covered Dr. Blake.
Every time Bones thought he couldn’t go on he got lucky. The first break came when Dr. Beth Lucas arrived. Her husband was a pilot. He owned a helicopter that he would fly to Raleigh Durham when he had a commercial flight due out, so they weren’t as confined about where they’d live as some other recruits. Harvey County was right in the middle of the state and it was convenient. Dr. Lucas loved Arabian horses, and they wanted a rural location. They fell in love with Harvey County and stayed.
Five years later it got tight again, but Dr. Lucas managed to get Dr. Dee to take a look at private practice. He was bored with his role as a professor at Sandhills and wanted to get back into direct patient care. He’d grown up on the farm and wanted to piddle on a tractor again. Dr. Lucas had been one of his best students and recruited him.
The three went along fine for fifteen years, but the times they were a changing. Medicine was more of a business with each year that went by. Bones was getting some age on him, and knew retirement loomed. The work load became harder to carry, and the paperwork requirements made the job near impossible. As Bones would say, “Something’s got to be done about all these patients. They’re getting in the way of my paperwork.”
Bones knew they could not stay independent forever, and would have to join forces with some bigger entity to survive. He also knew they would need to recruit some young people. The answer to the first question came later, but the recruitment issue seemed to have a potential solution. His name was Billy Spurgeon.
Billy was a graduate of Harvey High, where he played first trumpet and was the fourth man in the fire on the golf team. He was tall, lanky, and somewhat myopic, with the introspection that often accompanies spectacles. Other than a better than average hand-eye co-ordination that allowed for a smooth golf swing and a fair ping-pong game, he was only an average athlete. Slender and not aggressive enough for football, he was also too slow for track. He had a good jump shot but it was offset by a limited vertical leap that precluded hoops at any level higher than church league ball. Like Bones, he knew his future was in books.
Billy first met Bones Robertson as a high school student in the Medical Explorers Club at Harvey High. After a meeting, Billy wanted to know more about life as a doctor. Bones and his partner Dr. Dee invited him out to eat at Chang’s Chinese.
Even years later, Dee still laughed about it. “Bones about ran the kid off before we ever had a chance. After dinner when the boy was ready to go home, Bones walked him by that old Scout of his and slapped it on the rear fender. “Now son,” he said. “You have a chance to be just like us. If you work hard and you’re honest for a lifetime, all this can be yours.’”
With Dee’s Sandhills connections, they became community medicine preceptors, and had a couple of students come through every year. Bones went through that routine with each one who seemed to be a potential recruit, and so far each one had chosen a subspecialty in the city. When it didn’t scare Billy off, they knew they knew had a young man who might just go the distance.
By then though, times were harder. It used to be enough just to be a good doc, but now a good relationship with patients was only a small part of the survival skill set required of a modern doctor.
Billy did decide to join the practice. Of all the docs in the group, Billy was the most conflicted about the acquisition. As he would tell Bones, “Doc, you’ve gotten to practice the way you want for all these years. If they push you too hard, you can quit. For me it’s different. For one thing I’m broke.”
“I’ve been there Billy. We’ll just all have to stick together.”
For the most part they did, although it was no easy process.