October 20, 2011
Dr. Thompson attended Yale College and went on to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, graduating in 1971. He completed his residency at UVM in 1973, after which he came to Lyndonville under a federal program designed to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas.
Tim’s father, uncle, and both grandfathers were physicians. Desiring a well defined occupation and being fortunate enough to excel in both the sciences and humanities, he chose medicine.
Tim and his family rented a house in Sutton; he didn’t have a car, so he rode his bicycle to and from the hospital. For under $20,000 he worked about 120 hours a week and loved it. “I made great friends, it was a place I was needed, and it felt good to be doing good.”
Dr. John Elliott joined the practice in 1974. Their office was on the west side of Main Street across from the White Market in Lyndonville. Patients paid $7 per visit.
In 1976, Tim moved from Sutton to what is now The Riverside School on Lily Pond Road. Newly remarried, Tim and his wife Merle combined their families and started The Riverside School in their home. They had kids in the house every day; Tim taught English, Math and Anatomy. Trips to the slaughterhouse for organs helped with the anatomy class. He taught between hospital rounds and office hours. His day off, he spent the day leading assembly, teaching English, corralling kids for skiing and running, and chairing the board of trustees. He and his wife had to go to the basement for arguments.
Much of Tim’s professional time was spent at NVRH with sick patients. “Late nights, ER visits, ethics committee, intensive care unit, board of trustees: what an exciting place to work! I came at a time when a whole new set of physicians came – David Hantman, Hartley Neel, John Elliott, Ted Houle, Jerry Rankin. The nurses held my hand and urged me gently to do the right thing. Bev Moffett was the lone soul in the ER. I was once so tired that my nighttime dictation turned into a dream.” Tim speaks very highly of the hospital – “NVRH has been and still is an amazing partner; it has fantastic leadership and we’re extremely grateful for all their support over the years.”
He and Merle gave their home to The Riverside School around 1987, when they moved to their present home in Kirby, where Tim was on the school board for 15 years. Life was very busy and very rewarding.
Tim and John moved the office from the location on Main Street to the old rickety Corner School in 1993, which is how the name of the practice became Corner Medical. By that time, their practice had grown to include additional healthcare providers and a great support staff. After the building burned in 2002, the staff at Corner Medical was seeing patients the next day at NVRH, where they set up offices in a portion of the Med/Surg floor. They were in temporary quarters at the hospital for almost two years, until they moved to their current location in the Industrial Park in 2004.
So what now? Tim is retiring from medicine, certainly not from life. He loves to write and read. “There’s so much going on in medicine. Who knows how I will incorporate this incredibly rewarding experience into my life when I’m not seeing patients each week? The possibilities are endless.” Tim and Merle have three children; Polly and her husband Jamie have 3 children; son Jesse and his wife Betsy have two; and youngest daughter Emily lives in NYC with her husband, writer and teacher Austin Kelley. She recently did an installation for the designer Valentino at Lincoln Center. Tim and Merle’s grandchildren are a very important piece of the retirement picture.
Tim went into medicine to help people. Once immersed, he realized how much his patients helped him learn about himself. “It’s been a privilege to be so closely involved in people’s lives – the trouble, the agonies and the joys. Hospice work was the most graceful. The families are so appreciative. It’s a very poignant process. I’ve learned to investigate my own emotions, to go toward my fears – this is one of the most powerful life lessons I’ve learned from my patients. And finally, I’ve had a good time. It will be tough to say goodbye, but I have no regrets.”
Hilary De Carlo