Doctors’ offices in the late 1800s

In the late 1800s, doctors didn’t usually work much out of an office. Many shared a complimentary room in the back of a pharmacy, since their work brought the pharmacy their business and income, and little work was done there, but rather on site with the patient. Reasons for being at the patient’s home were many, including privacy and the fear of illness being passed to others, since it still was not fully understood how diseases were passed or prevented.

Before the telephone came along in the 1880s, each doctor had a slate at the pharmacy. Their name was on it, and a pencil for them to write where they were working that day, what they were doing, and when they were expected back.

The slates were supplied by the pharmacy and messages were taken and written by the drug store clerks. The druggist would usually not charge for office space or message-taking if the doctor used prescription blanks with their pharmacy name on them. W. Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store at Fourth and Austin had 12 doctors’ slates at the front of the store, placed in order of seniority.

Some of this was taken from “The Waco Medical Association and Reminiscences,” by Dr. O. Wilkes, M.D., privately printed in 1931.

Scotty Hermann, MD

Scotty Hermann arrived in Waco June 1982, after completing medical school and an OB-GYN residency at LSU in Shreveport. I first met Scotty when he volunteered to help teach a class for third year family medicine residents in Waco preparing to start a practice. He stopped practicing obstetrics 18 years ago, after doing more than 3,000 deliveries, so his last babies are graduating from high school this year. He continues to actively practice office gynecology at the Providence Medical Plaza, and surgical care at Providence Hospital and Fish Pond for outpatient surgery.

While Scotty freely admits that medicine today is significantly different from 30 years ago (or even 10 years ago) he remains positive about life and medicine. “I miss the days when the hospitals in Waco cooperated with each other, and almost everyone was on both medical staffs and worked together to provide the very best in medical care for McLennan County and the surrounding areas. I keep practicing today because I still love medicine, and look forward to seeing my patients. Many of them are not just patients, but are friends, and I look forward to visiting with them not only about their health, but about their lives and families. I never complain about coming to work—it is almost like a great hobby, something you enjoy and look forward to doing,” he says.

While generally positive, he is aware of drawbacks in current-day medicine in Waco. “Everything is mandated by time constraints, insurance demands, and corporate medicine. Unfortunately, insurance companies generally decide what patients need instead of me for labs or testing or procedures. Even though we may attempt to provide good customer service and personalized care, that doesn’t always seem to happen. I try my best to be an advocate for the patient and an intermediary when they have a problem with insurance.” While sometimes frustrated, he is not planning on retiring any time soon. He would miss his patients, though he wouldn’t miss the insurance games.

Medicine has not been Scotty’s only interest since his move to Waco. He referees Division I college basketball for the Big XII, CUSA, Mountain West and several smaller conferences. He reports that when he is on the basketball court, he is highly focused, and forgets about the rest of the things going on in the world—at least until he gets screamed at by 10,000 people.

And for those of you who have ever partaken of a Chicago style pizza from Rosati’s in Hewitt, you can thank Scotty for bringing that restaurant to Waco. After owning and helping manage (that means everything from washing dishes, to making pizza, to taking out trash, to repairing the computers) for six years, he finally sold the business. “Food service is an insanely difficult business.” His best story….walking to the front door of one of his patients and having her say, “20 years ago you delivered my baby, I never thought you would be delivering my pizza.” He told her times were hard in medicine!”

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