A t 77, Robert Eddy, MD, is a busy fellow. As a hospitalist at the 278-bed Brantford General Hospital in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, he works an average of 70 hours a week.
What keeps him going?
“After a long day at work I really look forward to my gin and tonic,” he says. “I have a picture of it in my mind when I’m driving home.”
On a more serious note, Dr. Eddy attributes his career longevity to good health, good genes, never smoking, and not overdoing the booze.
“I’m very lucky,” he says. “As a doctor you can keep going as long as you don’t have major health problems. My dad died in his 90s, so longevity runs in my family.”
Dr. Eddy rises early to do paperwork at his home office, then drives 20 minutes to the hospital and performs his hospitalist duties five mornings a week, Monday through Friday. On an average day he sees 12 inpatients, completes his charts, then grabs a quick lunch before heading out to see patients in a shared office practice in Burford, about nine miles away.
Scheduling around his hospitalist work and the office practice, he also makes house calls and nursing home visits to his sickest and frailest patients. He covers for his community-based colleagues and hospitalists, and twice a month organizes CME meetings for family physicians. From March to July he adds a temporary assignment at St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas, tending to 70 patients at that retirement community.
Janice Legere, MD, medical director of the hospitalist program of Brantford General Hospital, calls him “a country guy with a very dry sense of humor. The other hospitalists look up to him because he is the real deal as a doctor.”
Not bad for a gentleman born in the same year and month as the beginning of the Great Depression—October 1929. In his sixth decade of medicine, Dr. Eddy may be the oldest practicing hospitalist.
—Sandra Eddy, wife of Robert Eddy, MD, hospitalist at Brantford General Hospital in Ontario, Canada
No Sign of Slowing
Although he has practiced medicine for more than 52 years, retirement is not on his agenda.
“I closed my solo practice in 1999 because I didn’t want to work so hard, but I’m busier than ever now,” he says.
While Dr. Eddy and his second wife, Sandra, seriously discuss the possibility of his retirement every year, they have reupped for the hospitalist work, office practice, and house/nursing home visits at least through 2008. As they describe it, the overburdened Canadian healthcare system needs every qualified pair of physician hands it can get.
Ontario’s healthcare system can ill afford to lose someone of Dr. Eddy’s commitment, knowledge, and experience.
“I love medicine and am very lucky to have the energy and the stamina to keep going,” Dr. Eddy says. “I enjoy seeing hospitalized patients because I have as much time as I need to do a general assessment of their medical condition. I get my mind around the whole patient.”
His wife affirms Dr. Eddy’s commitment.
“We have been together for 28 years, and we have a good marriage,” she says. ‘‘But he is on call 24/7, and medicine always comes first. Then there’s us.”
But Dr. Eddy’s not just a nose-to-the-grindstone type of guy—he and Sandra do relax together. Along with his nightly after-work gin and tonic and an annual week’s trip to Las Vegas, they enjoy outings to the local casino, golf, dinners with friends, and frequent visits from three grandchildren.