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The '$5 doctor' a hero to small town

illinois nearly 60 years no appointments

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#1 Hum

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:01

RUSHVILLE, IL (AP) — Patients line up early outside his office just off the town square, waiting quietly for the doctor to arrive, as he has done for nearly 60 years.

Dr. Russell Dohner is, after all, a man of routine, a steady force to be counted on in uncertain times.

Wearing the fedora that has become his trademark, he walks in just before 10 a.m., after rising early to make rounds at the local hospital. There are no appointments. He takes his patients in the order they sign in — first come, first-served. His office has no fax machines or computers. Medical records are kept on hand-written index cards, stuffed into row upon row of filing cabinets.

The only thing that has changed, really — other than the quickness of the doctor's step or the color of his thinning hair — is his fee. When Dohner started practicing medicine in Rushville in 1955, he charged the going rate around town for an office visit: $2.

Now it is $5.

This in an era when the cost of healthcare has steadily risen, when those who don't have medical insurance often forgo seeing a doctor. But not Dohner's patients. He doesn't even accept medical insurance — says it's not worth the bother.

"I always just wanted to be a doctor to help people with their medical problems and that's all it's for .," the 87-year-old family physician says. "It was never intended to make a lot of money."

Even when the medical profession changed around him, he was always on call, ready to drop everything for a patient.

"There's no words to describe what he does for people and the effect he has on people," says Cindy Kunkel, a registered nurse at the hospital, where Dohner spends many evenings on "second rounds," as she calls them.

These days, though, it takes all his energy just to rise before 7 a.m. to head to the hospital, then to his office and back to the hospital, where the "Doctors' Dictating Lounge," named for his father, is set up with a desk and a cot for the occasional nap.

On Thursdays, Dohner closes his office at noon, but even then, he heads to the local nursing home to visit residents. On Sundays, he sees patients before church and stops by the hospital afterward.

He's there, indeed, like clockwork.

And he intends to keep it going as long as he possibly can.

"As long as I can make it up here, I'll help if I can," says Dohner, who has no plan to retire. Medical colleagues keep a watchful, caring eye on him.

He notes that his mother lived into her mid-90s. "I guess I don't know anything else to do," he says.

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#2 Scorbing

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:09

There is someone that I have a lot of respect for. That man truly honors his career and his pledge to take care of the public, not like most doctors and hospitals, who refuse to treat you unless you are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars.

#3 Farstrider

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:18

Awesome story, people like this are so rare now days. The real pity is that these people get so little recognition. Even from the people that he helps.

#4 Arceles

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:20

Honor to the carrer, Impressive.

#5 +McCordRm

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:22

There is someone that I have a lot of respect for. That man truly honors his career and his pledge to take care of the public, not like most doctors and hospitals, who refuse to treat you unless you are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars.

That wasn't a fair statement at all.
Blaming a business that goes through the number of lawsuits and has such high
costs as Medicine for charging so much is ignorant. You want prices to drop?
Disallow the lawsuits and reduce the costs of medication and medical school and
rent, etc.

If this guy can charge $5 and still make rent, good for him. Hell, I tip my hat to him.
I'm not arguing that he's NOT doing a good thing, but I am saying that doctors and
hospitals have a hell of a lot of out-of-pocket expense to cover, and the investment
of time as well on the doctor's part. This is a career the requires a great deal of
sacrifice JUST to get into, let alone be good at.

#6 n_K

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:25

Complete respect for this guy. I had a doctor years ago that was heavially involved in research for a medical condition, he poured all the money he made as a doctor into having his own team to research it more and try to find a cure.
They're the kind of people that put a smile on your face and make you think the human race isn't always as bad as it's cracked up to be.

#7 *RedBull*

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:27

Well those doctors and nurses have lives to with families. The schools they went to make them in debt. Education for that old man happened a long time ago. It's sad that he doesn't have get refresher training. But good work. Bet he has no medical staff at his office. Just himself. That's why no appointments.

#8 jnelsoninjax

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 16:28

Incredible story!

#9 Growled

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:27

He sure gets my respect.