During the past quarter century, Whitehall Family Medicine has undergone a major renovation, received a new name and experienced a fundamental change in what constitutes medical care, and Linda Bennett and Marilyn Bascue have bore witness to it all.
Bennett, a registered nurse, and Bascue, an X-ray technician, have been with the medical center, a division of Glens Falls Hospital, since it opened 25 years ago this month.
Over the years, the two women, each of whom has been employed in the medical industry since the 1970s, have seen the practice grow from a basic primary care practice with five employees to a facility that employs nearly 20 people and offers primary care, radiology and lab services, minor surgical procedures and even behavioral health counseling.
“I guess you could say we’ve grown,” Ann Mason, the center’s office manager said. “We see everything from children to adults, diabetics, and victims of heart attacks.”
According to Mason, Whitehall Family Medicine was the first regional practice opened by Glens Falls Hospital.
“At the time there was a real need for healthcare in the area,” she said. A hospital in nearby Granville had shut it doors and Dr. Eddison, the owner of Whitehall’s only practice, decided to close his practice.
Those closures left Whitehall approximately 25 miles from Glens Falls and nearly the same distance from Ticonderoga where the nearest medical care providers were located.
“It was kind of a no man’s zone,” Mason said.
A steering committee, consisting of several prominent citizens, was formed and worked in conjunction with Glens Falls Hospital to open the medical center, known then as Whitehall Family Health Center.
The first clinic was held on March 7, 1988 and would set the stage for the next 25 years of medical care in the community.
“We were supposed to see maybe 20 patients. We saw 45 on that first day,” said Bennett, a Whitehall resident who has been employed by Glens Falls Hospital since 1979. “And the people in the community have continued to support us.”
Bascue, who graduated from the hospital’s radiology program in 1973 and lives in nearby Clemons, says nearly everything in the medical industry has changed since the facility’s opening.
“When we started, everything was on paper charts and now everything is computerized,” she said.
Bennett said the medical industry has undergone a paradigm shift over the past two-and-a-half decades.
“The perception of medical care has changed. 25 years ago if you got sick you would go to the doctor. Now you go to the doctor to prevent illness and enhance wellness,” she said. “For example, the flu vaccination was available 25 years ago but people were scared to get it. Today, everyone gets it.”
The one thing, however, that hasn’t changed is the patients’ desire for personalized care, which is why the community health centers have thrived (there are 21 such facilities scattered across four counties).
“If you needed to travel 25 miles to see your doctor, you’re less likely to do it,” Bennett said.
It also doesn’t hurt that many Bennett and Bascue are among a half dozen employees who have been working at the facility for 15 years.
“We have patients that we’ve seen since they were babies and now they’ve graduated college or have babies of their own,” Mason said.
Both Bennett and Bascue said they love their jobs and don’t have any plans of retiring just yet.
“It’s a very nice to place to work. We’ve all established a rapport with each other. We’re like a family,” Bascue said.