Sandpoint and Surrounding Communities History

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty - Sandpoint Doctors and Medicine

by Bob Gunter

(Wilma Allen remembers Sandpoint when it was much different than it is today. She recollects how an old-time doctor responded to some of the needs he saw while he was making his rounds.)

The story Wilma tells, in her own words, allows us to see what the practice of medicine was like a few years back and just how involved the country doctor was in his/her community.)

The doctors of Sandpoint have always been a part of the backbone of the City of Sandpoint. They practiced their skills, sometimes at great sacrifice, to provide a service to the people of Bonner County. On many occasions they did not get paid, in money, for their services. Doctor bills were often paid with eggs, vegetables, fruit, and wood for the stove. Here is one instance that comes to mind. In 1937 a man contacted F.G. Harrell, my father, who was the chairman of the Bonner County Red Cross, hoping that he could get some help for his wife, as she was very sick. He had snow shoed to the highway from their home up in the Grouse Creek area. He caught a ride into Sandpoint hoping to get some medicine. My father, after hearing of the family's predicament, contacted Dr. F. G. Wendell. After hearing the story Dr. Wendell told the man he would accompany him home to see his wife. Dr. Wendell drove with the man to the Grouse Creek Road and from there they snow shoed to the man's home. Dr. Wendell did all that he could do for the woman but all he had with him was his medical bag.

The doctor asked the husband to accompany him back to the highway and his car. The man was instructed to wait there while Dr. Wendell drove back to Sandpoint to get the medicine the patient needed. While he was treating the woman Dr. Wendell had observed that the children of the couple had no shoes. When he returned to Sandpoint he told Mr. Harrell about the plight of the family. While he was in the couple's home Dr. Wendell had estimated the size of the shoes the children would need and he and my father went to J. A. Foster's clothing store and with Red Cross funds they purchased shoes for the family. Dr. Wendell returned to the place where the woman's husband was waiting. He gave the man the medicine his wife needed as well as the shoes for his children. Needless to say that this was a very appreciated kindness. The wife got well and many of the family still live in this area.

Dr. Wendell was not the only doctor in Sandpoint that made house calls. Many of the physicians in town would make a house call and often did not get paid. I remember that most of the doctors in town made house calls into the late sixties and would go to a person's home late at night, weekends and on holidays.

 

To see more great old photos of Sandpoint and the surrounding areas :: Click Here ::

 

All photographs have been used with permission of the Bonner County Museum.

 

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