Dr. John Remembers

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The photograph was taken in 1963 when I was a senior in medical school. Dr. Berry Moore Sr. on the left was the operating surgeon and was being assisted by his two sons; Dr. Berry Moore Jr. on the right and me, the tall, skinny one in the middle. To the best of my knowledge the patient survived!

I am currently the last of the 3 generations of Dr. Moore’s who practiced medicine in El Dorado, Arkansas. My grandfather, Dr. John Aaron Moore began his practice in 1898 and was joined by his son Dr. Berry Lee Moore Sr. in 1934. Dr. J.A. departed this life in 1943 and Dr. Berry Sr. continued in a solo practice until joined by his son Dr. Berry Lee Moore Jr. in 1957. Their practice of Family Medicine continued until 1966 when Dr. Berry Sr. departed this life. I became a physician in 1964 and continued in training to become a general surgeon. Following 2 years of active duty in the US Air Force, my family and I returned to El Dorado in 1971 when I began private practice in general surgery. My first office was with my brother, but because I had a referral surgical practice I moved my practice to join the Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas in 1974 while my brother continued in a solo general medical practice. I practiced in El Dorado until 1999, when I stopped doing general surgery; transitioned to a wound care practice and moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas to practice wound care at Washington Regional Medical Center. My brother practiced medicine until 2001 when he chose to retire to give home care to his wife LaNell who was diagnosed with a progressive dementia. On the date of his retirement, there had been a Dr. Moore practicing in El Dorado for a period of 103 years.

The purpose of this blog is to chronical the medical ministry of the Moore family to the people of South Arkansas for that 100 year period. I am recalling stories that my dad (Pop) told me of his years in training and his practice life before my brother joined him, and the few years they practiced together. From the time I began practice in 1971, the stories I relate are first hand.

In all of these accounts I purpose to show the hand of God in my life and in my family’s life. I want to recount how my life and practice was changed in 1977, when both my wife Cathy and I were born again into the Kingdom of God. We became radically different, and I began witnessing for Christ through the profession of medicine and surgery into which God had called me. In this effort and through this media, may Jesus Christ be honored and praised!

A Divine Legal Appointment

When a physician gets a phone call from a lawyer’s office it can strike fear in his heart. There is often an overriding anxiety of a medical malpractice suit lurking somewhere in his mind whether he will admit it or not. Even the wording of the allegations in a malpractice document such as, “–did willingly and knowingly commit  the error of —” are painful and distressing for a conscientious doctor. Just the mention of certain lawyers’ names evoke the same fearful response. Such was not the case when I received a phone call at my office one Monday afternoon from the El Dorado attorney Dennis Shackleford. I made an appointment to be in his office on the following Thursday afternoon.

Dennis, who was a personal friend was well-known in Arkansas for his outstanding legal defense work in medical malpractice cases. He occasionally asked me to review a case for him regarding allegations made against a physician from another part of the state but never against a local doctor. In addition to the generous monetary benefit I received from such a review I really enjoyed the legal discussions with Dennis, because I always learned something new from him. At one point during my training years I considered law school in addition to my medical training and had an abiding interest in the law. Pop used to tell me in a half-kidding way, “If you have a degree in law in addition to a medical degree you can write your own ticket working for a big insurance company!” I liked the part of “writing your own ticket”, but was not enthused about the “big insurance company” part!

Before my discussions began with Dennis he would frequently ask about our son John who was in law school during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.When John graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville in 1992 he began searching for just the right professional fit to begin his practice. He and his wife Gina enjoyed their 3 years living in Northwest Arkansas; had many friends and a great church in the First Baptist Church of Springdale (now Cross Church). Initially their preference of location was to remain in the area, but available positions at the time for a new and inexperienced lawyer were scarce. Gina had a good job working as an accountant for J B Hunt Trucking, which supported them financially, and to supplement her income John got a job in the produce section of Harp’s Grocery. He also worked for a short time at George’s Chicken in general maintenance. Cathy and I were greatly concerned for our lawyer son doing such non-legal work and were very diligent in those days to pray for John’s employment.

This particular afternoon when Dennis asked about John’s status I told him John had graduated but was having difficulty finding the right fit for employment. By this time John had taken and passed the Arkansas Bar examination, so he was ready to start his legal career. Dennis said, “I’ve got a good suggestion for him. Judge Harry Barnes from Camden has been just appointed by President Bill Clinton as Federal Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, and he is just waiting for confirmation from the United States Senate. Federal Judges always hire legal clerks to assist them, and those clerkships are highly sought by young, aspiring lawyers. Why don’t you give Harry a call to see if he would consider hiring John as his clerk? I doubt he has hired anyone yet.” I was acquainted with Judge Barnes because about a year previous another attorney friend Worth Camp invited Cathy and me to join him and his wife Janice along with Harry and Mary Barnes for an evening meal. Cathy and I really enjoyed our time that evening with the Camp’s and Barnes’.

I went back to my office and called the number Dennis gave me and Judge Barnes immediately answered which I considered miraculous. I identified myself and the judge remembered our previous dinner meeting. I told him about my conversation with Dennis and wanted to know if he had already hired a clerk which he hadn’t. I told him about John, and he said he would love to interview him because he had “a stack of applications” from all over the country but liked giving preference to local people in his hiring practices. “When can John be here for an interview,” he asked. I said, “I think he can come down from Fayetteville tomorrow afternoon.” “I look forward to meeting him,” the judge said as we concluded the call.

John was excited to meet and interview with Judge Barnes the following afternoon, and they immediately clicked. At the end of the interview Judge Barnes told John if he was confirmed by the Senate then John would be his law clerk. How excited we all were with this sudden and unexpected blessing! Both Cathy and I firmly believe Judge Barnes saw the outstanding character qualities in John and made the best choice for his first law clerk.

The 2 years John spent clerking in Judge Barnes office were the perfect beginning for him. He not only learned the many intricacies of jurisprudence from an outstanding judge but  was able to meet and know a large number of attorneys in the Western District of Arkansas. The law department at Murphy Oil Company, whose national headquarters are in El Dorado saw the great potential in John and hired him as an Associate Attorney in 1995. He has since risen in the corporate ranks of Murphy Oil, and when the corporation split to form Murphy USA in 2013 John became Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Murphy USA.

We never know the impact of a phone call or a meeting until looking back we see where God has directed. His promise is made real when we trust Him with all of our heart and don’t lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5,6). Cathy and I will always believe the appointment that afternoon with Dennis Shackleford was ordained by God.

Dr. John

 

Experiencing One of the Pains of Crucifixion

The Wrist Nail of Crucifixion

As Christ believers and followers it is important we understand as fully as possible the price He paid for our salvation and redemption. It is a simple statement to make, “Christ died for my sins,” but the depth of the cost escapes many. In about a  week all Christians will celebrate the holiday we call Easter, and for us the two most important days of the Easter weekend are Good Friday, symbolizing the day He was crucified, and Resurrection Day the following Sunday signifying the day He rose from the dead. Because He now lives all who believe and profess faith in the Lord Jesus have been redeemed, and one day our bodies will also be resurrected from the grave, and we will forever be in His presence. (I Thess. 4:17)

Not much is written in Christian literature about the methods and process of crucifixion which our Savior suffered, but I think it is important to understand a portion of the sufferings He endured for our sake. Crucifixion was not devised by the Romans but was used extensively by them for punishment and execution during the first century, and is arguably the most painful and horrific death sentence ever carried out. Tens of thousands were crucified by the Romans, and the guards responsible for carrying out the process became very skilled in their duties.

The prisoner was required to carry the cross-piece (patibulum) from the place of imprisonment to the site of execution. The cross-piece typically weighed between 75 and 125 pounds. The carrying of the cross-piece was made more difficult, because immediately preceeding the prisoner had been scourged or beaten with a whip called the cat of nine tails. This whip was made up of 9 leather thongs with balls of metal and sheep bones attached to each thong which would rip and tear the skin, soft tissue and even the bones of the back and legs. The extent of the beating depended on the disposition of the ones doing the scourging. Most would try to stop just short of causing death.

At the site of crucifixion the prisoner was stripped of his clothing, usually left naked and humiliated while being thrown on his back. His wrists were nailed to the cross-piece while his feet were nailed to the vertical part of the cross. Most pictures of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ show the nails driven through the palms, but this was not the case, because nails driven into the palms would have torn through the soft tissue of the hand due to the continuing weight of the victim. The nails which were 5-7 inches in length and about 3/8 inch in width were driven through the wrist between the radius and ulnar bones. At this position the nail was in constant touch with the median nerve or completely severed the nerve. The pain of this alone was excruciating (meaning derived from the pain of the cross). The irritation of the nerve sent continuing electric shock waves into the hand and out all 5 fingers. This is only one of many horrific pains suffered by the one suspended on a cross. It took our Savior 6 hours of enduring such humiliation and pain before He gave up the ghost. (Matt. 27:50).

Recently I had open heart surgery for a triple coronary artery by-pass and had a number of uncomfortable experiences during the prolonged pre-op and post-op periods. As a surgeon and one who has personally had multiple other operations, I was well-aware of most if not all types of pain which patients experience. There was one in particular of which I was not aware which was sudden, shocking and immediately reminded me of a tiny bit of what our Savior endured.

Prior to every open heart procedure a routine blood test done as a baseline study is an arterial blood gas. The blood specimen is obtained by an arterial puncture usually of the radial artery at the wrist. This was done on me the afternoon before I was to be admitted to the hospital. The phlebotomist (technician who draws blood) introduced herself and proceeded to accomplish the draw. Having been told I was a physician may have made her nervous, because her first attempt at the radial artery stick was not successful. While I held pressure on the puncture site at the wrist she felt for my pulse on the inner aspect of the arm at the elbow which on me is easily felt and bounding. She inserted the needle in the artery and got a blood flow, but then advanced the needle too far going through the artery and stabbing the ulnar nerve which lies just beneath the artery. I have never experienced such a sudden and explosive shock as the pain shot into my hand and the fingers. It felt as if blood had shot out the end of each finger. When I jerked back my arm reflexively she removed the needle from the site, and mercifully called for a more senior and experienced technician who completed the task on my opposite wrist.

When I walked out of the examining room my chief nurse told me he had never seen a technician miss an arterial puncture, so I felt I had set some kind of new unbreakable record by having 2 misses on me! I quickly recovered from the shock, but I will never forget the experience, because I was immediately reminded of what Jesus Christ did for me. The nerve pain he felt was not just for an instant but continuously for 6 hours. And this was a just small part of what He endured. Only God would do such a thing for a sinner such as me! I can’t even fathom such courage and such love, but I bless and praise His holy name!!

Dr. John

 

 

“When You Cross the Bridge at Memphis–“

Memphis Bridge

In the early 1980’s I was invited to speak at the First Baptist Church in Camden, Arkansas which is a 20 minute drive from El Dorado. The occasion was Laymen’s Sunday and the pastor, Dr. Francis Chesson asked that I challenge the church, particularly the men to be more involved in the work of the church. I was scheduled to speak to a Men’s Bible Class at 9:30 AM and preach the morning service to the entire church at 11 AM. I was honored to have been chosen as the speaker, and learned I had been recommended as layman’s speaker by Dr. Herman Sandford, a Professor of English at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. Dr. Sandford and I had become very good friends during the time he was Interim Pastor Of East Main Baptist Church in El Dorado approximately 2 years previous. Dr. Sandford was well-known by the people at First Baptist Camden, because he also served their church as Interim Pastor just prior to Dr. Chesson being called. Dr. Chesson’s previous pastorate was in Florence, South Carolina. I wasn’t aware Dr. Sandford would be there that morning to introduce me to the congregation until I arrived in the auditorium about 10 minutes before the scheduled worship service.

When it was time for Dr. Sandford’s introduction he took a few moments to thank the congregation again for being so gracious and kind to him and his wife Juanita during their time with them. He then told a story he claimed Dr. Chesson had related to him about his calling to the church in Camden. Here is Dr. Chesson’s alleged account;

“As I was praying one evening following my meeting with members of the Search Committee from First Baptist Camden I asked the Lord if I might ask Him a very serious question.” “What is your question Francis?” the Lord asked. “Lord, I feel the sense of a call to Camden and First Baptist Church.” After a brief pause the Lord said,  “Where is Camden?” Francis responded, “Lord it is in South Arkansas about 20 miles from El Dorado, and I believe it is your will for my wife and me to leave Florence and move to Camden. My question for you Lord is, will you go with me?” After a bit longer pause the Lord said, “Francis I will go with you as far as Memphis, but when you cross the bridge into Arkansas you’ll be on your own!”

When Dr. Sandford finished the story the congregation broke into uproarious laughter while Dr. Chesson seemed a bit embarrassed. I think he was more serious than the mischievous Dr. Sandford, but he joined in the laughter. After I was introduced I didn’t know quite how to open my remarks except to say how thrilled I was to have been invited by Dr. Chesson, and by all indications I could discern, his ministry was being greatly blessed by God. Of course the account of his prayer was simply a funny story with absolutely no truth to it whatsoever. Among many other promises of our God He tells us to ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. (Matt.7:7). He also promises He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb.13: 5b, 6), and the Bible also assures us it is impossible to flee from the presence of the Lord (Ps.139: 7-12).

Since that wonderful morning with the brothers and sisters in Christ in First Baptist Camden I have never crossed the bridge at Memphis and not remembered the tale told on Dr. Francis Chesson. I am reminded to also thank God for His abiding presence wherever I am (even South Arkansas!)

Dr. John

The Hidden Leg

Artificial Leg

Artificial Leg

 

During my years of surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans I was either the operating surgeon or first assistant on many lower limb amputations. A large percentage of the patient population of the largest teaching hospital in the country (at the time) were disadvantaged elderly, and a very large percentage of that group had peripheral vascular disease related to diabetes. I became skilled at amputations, both above and below the knee since those procedures were life-saving for the patients, and not because I sought to do them or even enjoyed that type of operation.

When I began my private practice of general surgery in El Dorado, Arkansas in the early 1970’s I discovered the orthopedic surgeons in town seldom if ever did limb amputations, so the procedure was done by the general surgeons when needed. An additional skill I learned in private practice involved the fitting and maintenance of the prosthetic device (artificial limb).

One afternoon I admitted a patient from my office named Alvin who had classic symptoms of acute, severe gall bladder disease, and because of his gender and physical findings I knew he needed an immediate operation. He had been tolerating his gall bladder symptoms for several weeks thinking he had a “bad case of indigestion.”  Throughout my years of experience in surgery I observed men in general delayed seeking treatment, and when they did come for an evaluation their condition was more severe than a woman of comparable age and health status.

Alvin was a Deputy Sheriff of Bradley County and lived in Warren, Arkansas which is about 50 miles from El Dorado. Another important part of his past history involved an injury to his right leg sustained by a gun shot wound years before while doing security work in South America. The injury was so severe his leg could not be saved, and  he had a below the knee amputation of his leg. He had successfully worn a prosthesis (artificial leg) for approximately 10 years..

The gall bladder operation done that same afternoon was difficult because of his size and the severity of the infection, but he was a very strong man and tolerated the procedure much better than I thought. When I visited him in his room later in the evening he was sitting up in bed with his glasses on reading the local newspaper! He even said his right side “felt much better” despite having a long incision with multiple staples in his skin. Laparoscopic surgery was not done in those days, and gall bladder surgery was generally much more painful with a longer incision and a longer recovery period. I told him I would see him again in the morning and was confident he would continue to improve rapidly. I noted his prosthetic leg had been removed prior to the operation and was propped against the wall and behind a curtain which partially concealed its’ presence.

The following morning I was making rounds to visit my hospitalized patients and in particular the post-operative patients. With his chart in hand I was walking to the end of the hall where Alvin’s room was located when I saw the door opened quickly, and a man who worked in housekeeping came bursting out of the room and running down the hall. Thinking perhaps Alvin had fallen out of bed or had some severe event such as a heart attack, I began running to his room. As I pushed the door open widely I saw Alvin sitting up in bed holding his right side and laughing as heartily as his painful side would permit. “What in the world just happened Alvin?” Between laughs he said, “The man from housekeeping knocked on my door, and when I gave him permission to enter he asked if he could clean my room to which I consented. He started sweeping first and when he swept the broom into the curtain against the wall he accidentally bumped my artificial leg, and it fell out into the middle of the room with a loud thud! The housekeeper’s eyes widened not recognizing this was an artificial leg and he turned and ran. He was scared to death!”

Later that morning I spoke with the housekeeper and asked him why he was so scared when he saw the leg fall out in the room. He said he didn’t know if it was “alive or dead.” I told him in a joking fashion for him not to worry because Dr. Duzan (the pathologist) kept the legs removed that day in that room before taking them to the basement, and they were not alive. I don’t think he believed me, but occasionally when I would see him working I would ask if any more legs had gotten after him. It took him awhile before he could laugh about the incident with the hidden leg.

Dr. John

 

Water-Skiing On Calion Lake

Ski Boat

ski jump

Calion Lake is well-known to South Arkansans but is little known to folks outside of the area. Perhaps the reason is because the lake is relatively small and there is not much room for anything but fishing. Over the past 40-50 years bass fishing which attracts many fishermen has not been very good in the lake so Calion Lake is not on the radar of the serious bass fisherman. The lake is only 10 miles north of El Dorado, and because it is so convenient to the locals it is the recreational spot for many. At different seasons bream fishing is very good,and I have heard from some that white perch fishing is also good.

During the years I was a teen and always looking for something new and exciting Calion Lake presented an option. Water skiing didn’t sound too exciting because there were lots of stumps in the water and the lake was not wide nor long enough to ski for very long stretches without having to turn around. Also at the time none of my good buddies had one of those sleek and speedy ski boats so it seemed skiing on Calion or any lake was not an option

My closest friend was Eric Richardson and the two of us spent many hours during the summer months camping, hunting in the woods and fishing on the Ouachita River with its’ sloughs and tributaries. Many times I had no idea where we were, but I depended on Eric and his knowledge and expertise to keep us from getting lost or in serious trouble. GPS technology had not been developed so knowledge of the rivers, lakes and large tracts of land were very important.

Although Eric did not have a ski boat like a few of our wealthier friends he had a very nice flat bottom aluminum boat with a 18 hp Evinrude with which we safely and quickly navigated the waterways. We had considered giving a try at water-skiing behind his boat but had never acted on it until one beautiful Saturday morning when the weather was perfect. The closest lake for excellent skiing was D’Arbonne Lake in Farmerville, Louisiana, but it was at least an hours drive away, and Calion seemed like a very good option for our initial skiing adventure. We had heard most if not all of the stumps in the middle of the lake had been removed which made if safer and easier to maneuver in tight turns. In addition we heard a ski jump had been added in the middle of the lake for the real adventuresome skier, but that option was completely off the table for us. There was a story which circulated regarding the ski jump which Frank Thibault Jr. had attempted going over while skiing bare-foot. Frank who was a year younger than us was well-known for some of his antics, and the story didn’t surprise us. I never checked with Frank to verify the story, but we believed it to be true.

Eric’s next door neighbor, Jimmy Moody was with us that morning, and although he was a bit reluctant at first, he was in complete agreement with our plan. Jimmy had friends with nicer ski rigs so he was a more accomplished skier than either Eric or me. In those teen years we were each skinny and didn’t believe our individual weights were too great to prevent the relatively small motor from pulling us behind the boat. When we arrived at Calion we launched the boat with ease. Neither Eric nor I had any experience skiing with a single ski, and although I remember Jimmy knew how to ski with a single, we believed the motor was not powerful enough to pull an even skinny skier on a single.

I remember only one or two other boats with skiers that morning, but we still were going to be cautious and conservative because of the small size of Calion. There would certainly be no attempts at going over the ski jump! None of the three of us were as brave as Frank Thibault, and skiing bare-foot was totally out of the question.

Jimmy went first since he was the “expert,” and with Eric driving the boat and me as spotter Jimmy was successfully pulled up on the skis. What great fun it was that morning with the wind in our faces, the sun on our backs and flying along at about 10-15 mph! Despite our small size the speed generated at full throttle was barely enough to keep us up on skis. No matter–we were successfully skiing despite the fact we looked the part of three rednecks skiing behind a fishing boat!

I was next and was able to get upright on the my first attempt. I made a couple of rounds on the lake, even though I was pretty sure Eric was making more turns than necessary trying to get me to fall. Eric was mischievous enough to do that. When it came Eric’s turn to ski I was the appointed driver. I had previous experience with the boat and motor from many of our fishing and camping outings.

I got Eric up on skis on the first attempt and things were going smoothly as I made a couple of good turns, and Eric stayed up. What happened next is a little blurred, but here is my recollection. The motor began to sputter while losing power and speed. As we slowed Eric sank into the water about 12-15 feet behind the boat. With Jimmy in the front I began pulling on the rope crank to restart the engine while Eric remained in his position behind the boat. I assume a spark from the ignition and a little spilled fuel in the bottom of the boat were the culprits, but a rather large fire ignited in the floor of the boat very near the large gas can! Jimmy would have no part of a possible rescue attempt, so he dove in the water swimming as fast as possible to get some separation before the expected explosion. I figured since I was now captain of the ship I had to at least try to save the boat. There was a lot of screaming and shouting while Eric used the ski rope to pull the boat closer. Without climbing into the boat he was able to reach the gas connect from the motor to the gas can and we moved the gas can as far away from the flame as possible. We were able to extinguish the fire with water from the lake while stability and more calmness was restored. Jimmy was staying afloat about 10 feet from the boat and swam back with the fire now put out out. A near-by boat of skiers was watching this scene and came over pull us back to shore. We were glad we had a boat left to pull.

We never blamed Jimmy for abandoning the boat when he saw the flames; in fact I was about ready to dive into the water with him when Eric came to the rescue. I believe his fear of losing his boat and motor gave him the extra motivation to attempt the rescue. We were all glad he did. The boat and motor survived to run once again but were never used for skiing to my knowledge. Besides within a year or so we had all gained weight!

Dr. John

“I Have A Check For You”

blank-check

The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks was opened and became fully operational in November, 2008 as a medical ministry to people with no medical insurance in Taney and Stone Counties, Missouri. I have previously written a 5 part account of the vision and the founding of the clinic (The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks Parts 1-5, 11/20/ 2012), and the Free Clinic (FMCO) has been a prominent part of my medical professional life since its’ founding. One of the more amazing things about the Free Clinic has been the funding.

In the initial planning phase of FMCO which began in mid-2007 it was the founder’s desire to provide free medical care, free medicines and the free gospel to everyone who came. The planners had no idea what the annual expenses would be but trusted God to provide. We were not presuming on God to supply that which was not in His sovereign will, but firmly believed the formation of this clinic was His will.

The sources of the funding were to come from any churches who considered the ministry of the clinic an extension of their own ministry; from individuals who were led to make a charitable contribution and from fees charged to legal offices for copying records. In the beginning I contacted many church administrators and pastors to make our clinic known to them and to ask for their support. Both the First Baptist Church of Branson and the First Baptist Church of Hollister agreed to be regular contributing partners while other churches in the area promised their prayer support and financial help if possible. There was a small but significant number of individual supporters who gave generously to the founding and maintenance of the clinic.

The clinic site was initially in a remodeled building owned and maintained by the Covenant Life Church in downtown Branson, Missouri. The pastor and ruling board of Covenant Life Church told us had they not invested significant funds in remodeling, we would have the use of the clinic space at no cost. The rent was to be $1500 per month, but from that amount Covenant Life would give $250 back into our operating expense. We believed the rent was a good investment for a very nice and convenient space with good parking.

All of the workers at the Free Clinic were to be volunteers including the doctors and physician assistants, and most agreed to serve on one clinic evening per month. This kept our overhead expenses down greatly, and we were able to tell all potential donors at least 95% of every dollar donated would go directly to patient care.

Jerry Lilley, the Executive Director and I were guests of 2 local radio stations and Rick Beasley, a board member and I were invited to be guests on Mona Stafford’s show on Bott Radio to explain the work and ministry of the Free Medical Clinic. Our goal was to make the work known and solicit donations for our clinic. I was twice invited as guest speaker at the Branson chapter of the Rotary Club, and was invited to speak at the Lion’s Club in Branson and at a luncheon meeting of the chapter in Branson West. We were grateful to have the privilege of explaining the ministry and giving people the opportunity to partner with us. We were blessed by donors giving generously and were able to meet all the financial obligations with some to spare each month. We have never initiated a fund-raising event, although one Branson tribute artist, Keith Allyn has voluntarily performed 3 separate benefit concerts over 3 years for the clinic for which we are very grateful.

Approximately 2 years after the clinic opened the local hospital Skaggs Community Hospital approached us with an offer for a new clinic space in Hollister, Missouri. The hospital had an existing clinic building which was not fully occupied, and they offered us one of the offices on the first floor. For us the most amazing thing was they offered the space for the lease price of $1 per year. With their offer our clinic overhead expense was reduced by $15,000 per year. In addition to providing ample clinic space there was more parking and easier access for our patients.

One of our original chaplains, Jerri Traister told me one evening the man for whom she had been providing personal home care wanted to make a contribution to the clinic. Her patient Raymond B. had been quadriplegic for several years due to an accident, and Jerri had been providing general supportive care for most of that time. When she was on duty as a chaplain she would bring Raymond to the clinic where he had been interacting with the patients. Jerri said he “loved the clinic and wanted to help out with the finances.” I told her how grateful I was for even his desire to be a part of the clinic.

About 2 weeks following our initial conversation I was at the clinic one evening while patients were being seen. I didn’t realize Jerri was on duty that night, but when I saw her she said Raymond was there with his check for me. She pushed his wheelchair into my office, and I noticed Raymond was holding a check between his index and long finger and it was resting on his chest. I knew Raymond because he had been a patient of mine when I was Director of the Wound Care Clinic in Branson. I told Raymond I was so glad to see him again, and he smilingly said, “I have a donation I would like to make to the clinic,” while he lifted the check and placed it in my hand. At first I didn’t look at the amount of the check, but I told him how grateful I was personally for his contribution, and how we would be faithful to use his gift wisely. I then looked at the check and it was for $10,000! That was the largest single gift ever made to our clinic, and I couldn’t help shedding tears of gratitude. Who could have imagined a man with so many personal needs would give such a huge gift to help meet the needs of others!

God has demonstrated His faithfulness to the ministry of the Free Medical Clinic in so many ways, and as we have seen Him provide the needed finances at just the right time, our faith has grown. We have seen so many demonstrations of His Word from Philippians 4:19 where He promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus. Raymond B. was used of God to fulfill God’s promise to us that night, and I’m confident Raymond will be richly rewarded for his obedience.

Dr. John

“I Was Just Walking Down The Highway”

Bush Hog

Bush Hog

In the course of my surgical practice in El Dorado for 30 years I was able to treat some of the most unusual and interesting injuries occurring to my patients. Many of the injuries were the result of automobile accidents in which the injured person was responsible for the wreck because of reckless driving or alcohol use. Cases involving gunshot or knife injuries seldom had an innocent party. It seemed at the time every weekend I was on call to the emergency room there was at least a serious automobile wreck with critical injuries, or an incident involving a gunshot or stabbing injury. One critical injury I treated was neither of these types and was one of the most devastating injuries I ever treated. It involved an individual who was innocently walking down a county road with no automobiles in sight when he was suddenly struck down by an initially unknown object.

I was called to the ER one Saturday afternoon with the ER nurse telling me a middle-aged man had been brought in with a severe penetrating injury to his left groin. I asked if the wound was a stab wound or a gunshot wound, and she said, “Neither.” “Something had to penetrate the leg, so perhaps it could have been a stray bullet that caused the wound?” I asked. “I don’t think so”, she said, “but the wound is a serious one with lots of swelling at the site of entrance and color change in the surrounding tissue.” “I’ll be right out”, I told her.

Upon arrival in the ER I found the man in considerable pain with a 2 inch diameter rounded entrance wound high in the left groin with considerable swelling in the surrounding area of the thigh. I couldn’t palpate a pulse because of the swelling and the Doppler evaluation was inconclusive for a good femoral artery blood flow. It was obvious he needed an immediate operation  to repair the damaged artery and vein in order to restore circulation to his leg so we set in motion the steps to call out the emergency operating team. In the meantime we obtained the necessary lab tests for an operation and arranged for the blood bank to have at least 2 units of blood available in case further blood loss was excessive. I ordered an x-ray of the injury site to look for the foreign object.

While the preliminary tests were being done I questioned him further regarding the nature and cause of the injury. He again said he was walking alone down the county road going to a near-by residence when he suddenly collapsed noting intense pain in his groin. I asked  if anyone else was close-by, and he said, “There was a man bush-hogging the property on the side of the road on which I was walking.” We were then certain the bush hog was the cause of the injury.

Years earlier while in surgical training in New Orleans I treated a lady with a sudden lung collapse. She was seated on her porch watching her husband mowing her yard when she felt a sudden pain in her chest and developed extreme shortness of breath. A chest x-ray demonstrated a collapsed lung and what appeared to be a piece of coat hanger in her chest cavity. The lawn mower had passed over the metal and throw it like a missile into her chest wall. A chest tube was immediately placed and her lung quickly inflated.

Prior to moving the current patient to the operating room I decided to quickly look at the x-ray and was stunned by the finding. There had indeed been a large foreign object thrown into his leg and it was still lodged in the soft tissue. In addition to causing considerable damage to the large blood vessels of the upper thigh, the missile severely damaged the hip joint.

I called Dr. John Giller who was the orthopedist on call, and he came to the ER to evaluate the damage to the bones and the hip joint. His conclusion was the joint could not be repaired with a replacement because of the extensiveness of the injury, and the only option was amputation of the limb at the hip level. Needless to say this was quite a shock to the patient and to our entire OR crew, but we proceeded to the OR to complete the necessary operation. The patient recovered well with no post operative complications, and as soon as he was able was begun on physical rehabilitation and eventually fitted for a prosthetic device for his left leg.

Accidents and severe injuries are sudden, life altering and occasionally deadly. This one was one of the more unusual I treated in my years as a trauma surgeon. The patient survived but his life was changed in an instant. I never drive past a bush hog working in a field I don’t think how that piece of machinery can discharge a missile every bit as deadly as a bullet. I try to get past it as quickly as possible.

Dr. John