Dean History: Early Medical Practice- Dean - WI

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Dean Medical Group's History

A Tour Through The Decades

Dean History: Early Medical Practice

The Early Days of Dr. Joseph Dean’s Medical Practice

Upon graduation from Chicago’s Rush Medical School in 1902, Dr. Joseph Dean went to Seattle to set up his practice. Six lean months there didn’t generate much business, so he returned to Madison, determined to succeed in his next attempt to establish a medical practice.

“Dr. Joe,” as he became fondly known, opened his first office in Madison above the B.B. Collyer Pharmacy on the corner of State and Mifflin Streets on August 1, 1904. At the time, he did not have a telephone, so he used the Collyer phone number during store hours. His parents also had a phone that he could use or, if necessary, someone in his family would hurry to his office to give him a message. Dr, Joe slept at night in his office in order to be available to his patients as well as to save money. He ate his meals at home because he could not afford to eat anywhere else. His total income for his first month of practice was $4.50—little more than $100 in today’s currency.

First Madison patient

Dr. Joe’s treatment of his first patient in Madison reflected what would become a lifelong commitment to the best possible medical care, despite potentially limiting circumstances.

An initial examination indicated the patient required immediate hospitalization. But Dr. Joe feared that, if he stepped outside of his office to arrange transportation, the patient would flee, thanks to widespread public distrust of hospitals at the time. So he locked the patient in his office, went downstairs to make the phone call to arrange transportation, and then returned to his office to unlock the door and made sure his patient went to the hospital for the necessary treatment.

Building his practice

During those early days, Dr. Joe slowly increased his income. The second month, it quadrupled to $25.25 and then rose to $28.00 for the month of October. After his first year, his income reached only $1,589 (less than $40,000 in today’s money). He then took his father’s advice to try a better location and moved his office to 27 East Main Street above the Detloff Pharmacy on the Capitol Square. This improved location, coupled with the stellar reputation he began to develop as a physician, led to a steady growth in his practice, which continued through the duration of his medical career.

Building his reputation

Without much to fight illness with except hot water, cold compresses and his own resources, Dr. Joe faced up to dreaded diseases that are all but forgotten now, including diphtheria, tuberculosis and smallpox. His diagnoses were made solely on the history of the illness, his own examination and his intuitive judgment, without the benefit of clinical evidence from a laboratory.

He met all the demands made on the family physician and, in so doing, earned a reputation around the area as a superb surgeon and general practitioner.

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