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Published: Friday, 10/24/2003

Oak Harbor family doctor can't part with his patients

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - After more than 50 years, Dr. Robert Minick hasn't gotten tired of his dream job.

Dr. Minick, 78, who began practicing general medicine in Oak Harbor in 1950, still sees a regular schedule of patients, does hospital rounds, and even makes an occasional house call.

His idea of retirement is working 40 hours a week instead of 60 or 70.

“I don't have any plans to retire,” he said during a visit to his office next to Oak Harbor High School. “I don't know what I'd do. You see a lot of doctors go to Florida and play golf. That's not living.”

Earlier this month, Magruder Hospital honored Dr. Minick for his long service by naming the facility where he works the R.W. Minick Medical Building.

“I was flabbergasted and overwhelmed,” Dr. Minick said. “You know, there's very few buildings named after a guy, unless you're a politician.”

That same day, Oct. 11, he was grand marshal for Oak Harbor's 25th annual Apple Festival. Dr. Minick noted with a wry smile that nearly 40 years ago he delivered Tom Priesman, the local Chamber of Commerce leader who asked him to lead the festival parade.

“I'm 38 years old, and I've known him for 38 years,” Mr. Priesman said. “He was the first one who spanked me.”

Mr. Priesman said the honors for Dr. Minick were well deserved.

“He's a rare doctor,” he said. “He'll tell his patients, `You call me at home anytime, day or night, if you've got a problem. He genuinely cares about his patients, and not just when they're in his office.”

David Norwine, the president and chief executive officer of Magruder, said the hospital wanted to honor Dr. Minick for his service to Oak Harbor.

“It's virtually unheard of to have a physician serve in an area, any area, in excess of 40 years,” he said. “I think it's a fitting legacy. For a number of those years, he was the only physician in town.”

Besides his general practice, Dr. Minick was medical director of two Ottawa County nursing homes - Riverview and Edgewood - for more than 20 years. For more than 40 years, he was the official physician for the Benton-Carroll-Salem schools' athletic department.

“It's pretty safe to say there's not a family in the Oak Harbor area that hasn't in some way been touched by Dr. Minick's medical career,” Mr. Priesman said.

Dr. Minick, who grew up in Gibsonburg, Ohio, graduated from Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland in 1948, then did an internship at Indianapolis Methodist Hospital.

“We took care of all the guys who got hurt at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” he said.

When he finished his internship, Dr. Minick was offered a five-year residency at the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Instead, he went home to Gibsonburg.

“My wife was pregnant and I was broke, and the doctor in my hometown said, `Why don't you come work for me,'” Dr. Minick recalled.

After 10 months there, he moved to Oak Harbor to start his own practice. Except for serving with the Army in Germany from 1955 to 1957, he's worked there ever since.

“I never thought about leaving,” he said. “When you practice this long, they become your friends as well as your patients.”

Dr. Minick said medicine has changed a lot - mostly for the better - during his career.

In his early years, he saw patients several nights a week, sometimes as late as midnight. He dispensed medicines himself and visited homes to deliver babies.

A doctor's examination, including medication, cost $3 half a century ago, he recalled. His first annual malpractice insurance premium was $24. Now he pays about $12,000 a year for coverage.

Because of managed care and government programs such as Medicare, medicine involves a lot more paperwork and bureaucracy. But Dr. Minick said patients are better off. Advancements in technology and medications have shortened hospital stays and given doctors many more tools.



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