On retirement

To the editor:

I am retiring after 38 years at North Country Family Physicians.

There is more: I thank the North Country community – that’s you folks – for allowing me to share with you my casual-but-concerned version of “a life in medicine.”

So first, I would like to express loving gratitude to Roy Slaunwhite and Barry Kilbourne for sharing 101 collective years as we learned how to navigate a very difficult profession, one in which we have all tried to show grace and caring in our own, very different ways. For example, it is extremely difficult to council a patient newly diagnosed with a terminal, irreversible illness, and then recompose one’s self and enter the next room to share in the joy surrounding a three-day-old infant. That’s what we do, but it is exhausting. Few partnerships survive under similar, emotionally demanding circumstances.

Next I will always know affection for the patients who have shared with me some of their life’s most pressing moments. I have learned more about humanity and myself from you than you have learned about your healing from me. Some encounters were brief, and others have encompassed five generations. My mantra will always be, “Let me in those rooms; that’s where the people are.” What amazing adventures I have navigated in such confining surroundings: the same small rooms – visited as a guest of those in pain – over and over. I’ve faced infants and centenarians, rich and poor, simple scratches and ominous illnesses, wise and foolish, appreciative and some not so, in office and hospital, on the street and in my living room. All this was shared in our small together-space – always a vast adventure, always. Again, I thank you for the opportunity to mature and make well along with you.

Finally, many of my patients know that I have been working to help you find a soft landing for your ongoing medical care. Luckily, you have many very good choices. Dr. Barry Joseph Kilbourne will continue to practice medicine at the North Country Family Physicians’ offices in Saranac Lake and St. Regis Falls. He is a logical first choice for many of your needs. Please contact me for further suggestions. Adirondack Health and our other medical groups, including Adirondack Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, plus Medical Associates offer additional excellent choices.

Truly yours, with great regard for 38 years of sharing our stories and lives together,

George S Cook, M.D.

Saranac Lake