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GUEST COLUMN: Stroll down healthcare memory lane

The healthcare industry has drastically changed. Always it seems there is a new industry trend emerging. In the days before health insurance, patients were required to pay for surgery before it was scheduled.

Granddaddy Terrell’s cousin needed surgery

The cost of the surgery was $300 and “Cousin Bunn,” as he was called, was required to pay for it before it would be scheduled. Cousin Bunn had a farm in Bartow County. To get the $300, he zig-zagged all over his farm digging up jars of money. Granddaddy went with him to pay for the surgery. The lady at the business office said, “Can I help you?” And Cousin Bunn said, “I am here to pay for my surgery so it can be scheduled. I was told $300 is the amount I am to pay.” He put the jars of money on the counter expecting her to count it. Visibly annoyed, the lady said, “I’m not going to count all that!” Granddaddy Terrell said, “He brought you the money. Now count it!” And so she did. Cousin Bunn had his surgery. I asked Granddaddy if the jars of coins were pennies. He said, “No. It was all quarters.”

That weird elevator

Cousin Bunn’s surgery was at Harbin Hospital. In 1948 the 40-year old hospital underwent extensive renovation and re-opened as Harbin Clinic. Remember the elevator at the old Harbin Clinic? What stands out in my memory is riding the elevator down. We got on the elevator, the lady operator closed a glass and metal door, cranked a black metal gate closed, pushed a button and off we went. I watched the bricks “going by” as we rode down. Riding the elevator down meant we were going home!

Time for cough syrup

Dr. Robert Black was my pediatrician. When I was a child Mama took me to him for checkups, and immunizations as well as when I was sick. Once, at about 4 years of age, I had a high fever and Mama took me to see Dr. Black. I was in my pajamas and didn’t want to get dressed and go to the doctor. I said, “Mama, Dr. Black is just going to have you get me that yellow cough syrup and tell you to feed me ginger ale and crackers.” When we got to Dr. Black’s office, we didn’t have to wait long to see him. Right away, as he began writing a prescription for me, he said, “Mrs. Terrell, go downstairs and get Pam some of this cough syrup. Go home and feed her ginger ale and crackers.” I gave Mama that look — as only a 4-year-old can — and she looked rather sheepish. We wasted no time getting back on that weird elevator and going downstairs to the pharmacy.

Remember Arrington-Ingram Pharmacy? Located on the first floor of the old Harbin Clinic, there were massive apothecary jars on each end of the counter. One of them was filled with fire engine red water. The other jar was filled with yellow water — just the color of that awful cough syrup.

These days I enjoy good health

And I give the credit to good genes as well as the life choices I have made. Think back on the physicians whom you have seen over the years. Native Romans will doubtless remember Dr. Warren Gilber, Dr. Ed Bosworth, Dr. Tom Harbin, Dr. C.J. Wyatt, Dr. Robert J. Black, Dr. James Samuel “Sam” Garner Jr., Dr. Thad Matheny, and many others.

These are just a few of the beloved physicians who cared for more than one generation of Romans.

A good physician is worth their weight in gold. Do not ever take your physicians for granted!

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal who enjoys good health and is an avid cyclist. She is always reading a good novel of southern fiction. You may email her at