There was a time thirty some years ago when the Chamber of Commerce and some of the prominent physicians in town decided that it might be a good idea to promote Durham as The City of Medicine. Not only was the Duke Medical Center very prominent nationally as a teaching and research juggernaut, we also had two of the major pharmaceutical companies in the world headquartered in the Research Triangle Park. Durham was also a major destination for those seeking treatment for obesity at facilities like Structure House.
While the pharma companies no longer play as big a role as they once did, the Duke Medical Center has continued to grow in size and reputation. It has absorbed what was once “county hospital” or Durham Regional Hospital. DUMC now occupies real estate all over the Triangle, making many of its services available in clinics with easy access and convenient parking.
As a business person and good Chamber member, I was aware of all this and often participated in events associated with the City of Medicine program. However, I have been fortunate over most of those years to have very little interaction with Duke as a patient other than an occasional check-up.
But age and circumstances take their toll and recently my optometrist let me know that she could no longer correct the vision in my left eye with a new prescription for glasses. I had a cataract in my left eye that needed treatment and one developing in my right eye that soon would. She recommended an eye surgeon at the Duke Eye Center who her patients had highly praised.
Well yeah. I already knew him by reputation and his profile on the Eye Center’s webpage reported that in 30 plus years of practice he had operated on over 56 thousand patients. So I went for an evaluation, a little surprised to get someone of his stature. It turned out we had some mutual acquaintances and had a pleasant chat and in no time I was scheduled for the procedure which removes the cataract and replaces it with a new lens.
I was in at 8:30 and out the door by noon. Only about 30 minutes of that was I in the operating room and things are fine now post-op.
The point of writing this though is to share how this interaction as a patient changes your perspective a little bit about the benefit of having the big Duke Medical center right here in town. It is much less abstract and more personal.
At the Eye Center anyway, the access to some of the best practitioners in world is great, but the care they provided was wonderful from the beginning to the end. I interacted with at least a dozen personnel besides the surgeon. From check-in to a call to the weekend doctor on call, every single one of them was friendly, respectful and seemed genuinely concerned about my comfort and care. The nurse that did most of the prep work before surgery asked me where I was from, implying that a lot of their patients come from hither and yon.
The reason this blog is called “Ordinary Durham” is to point out some of the things that don’t get mentioned as much anymore during Durham’s ascendency as a “cool” place for food, art, music and the entrepreneurial beehive that Downtown has become.
Durham as the “City of Medicine” is no longer promoted but it’s spirit is alive and well and growing stronger in Ordinary Durham.