Helping others feel better

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Former doctor delivered first baby born in the Baby Place

A retired doctor who practiced family medicine in Albert Lea for 35 years is still helping the community through his involvement with the Naeve Health Care Foundation.

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Ted Myers began his career in Albert Lea at Albert Lea Clinic in 1964. During the course of his career, he delivered approximately 1,000 babies and assisted patients with medical conditions, such as the flu, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease.

Myers — who delivered the first baby born in the Baby Place — said his most memorable moment came when he delivered his first granddaughter, Becca, in 1982.

Myers also nearly delivered Becca’s mother — his second child, Melinda — before an internist delivered her.

“I came within about five minutes of delivering her, because I was with the (University of Iowa), and I was with the obstetrics service at that time,” he said. “And my wife’s doctor was slow getting to the hospital, because my wife suddenly went very fast.”

Myers was asked to be the medical director for what is now Fountain Centers in 1976, and he served in that position until he retired at the end of 1999. He was the first CEO after Naeve Hospital and Albert Lea clinics merged with the Mayo Medical Center in Rochester during the 1990s, also serving in that role until his retirement.

Myers serves as a board member of the Naeve Health Care Foundation, which has given more than $3 million to the Albert Lea hospital for improvements.

A native of Sheldon, Iowa, Myers graduated from medical school at the University of Iowa in 1959. At that time, there was a doctor draft, so most doctors were selected to serve in either the military or for a public health service. Myers — who entered the U.S. Army before his senior year of medical school — was stationed at the Army hospital in San Francisco for his internship. He was then sent to Fort Knox in Kentucky, and from December 1961-62 he served in Vietnam. Myers was then transferred back to Fort Knox, where he served the remainder of his Army career.

Myers spent one year at the University of Iowa for residency and internal medicine. During that time, a doctor from Albert Lea visited the city to see if anyone was interested in filling an open family practice position in Albert Lea.

“I said I was,” Myers said.

He began his career in the community at Albert Lea Clinic.

Over the course of his career, significant upgrades in medical technology and medicine took place. The Albert Lea Medical and Surgical Center merged with the clinic in 1985.

“Medicine changed tremendously during that time,” said Myers, who recalled the growth of group practices during his career.

He said he does not support Mayo Clinic Health System’s plan to transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

“Mayo says that the hospitals were losing money,” Myers said. “Nobody is connecting the dots that the reason they were losing money was because they didn’t have enough doctors here, and people had to wait for weeks, and sometimes months, to see a doctor. And so they would either get better by themselves or go somewhere else.”

Myers said the hospital’s staffing issue could be resolved if the hospital requires doctors who complete their medical degree to serve two to three years in a community where Mayo owns a hospital.

Despite his disagreement with the transition, Myers said he still supports the original affiliation with Mayo Clinic.

“We felt that a natural referral center where most people want to go, and where we usually sent patients that required specialty care — they sent them to Rochester, and that seemed to be a natural thing,” he said. “Rochester wanted us to join them. We wanted to join them.”

The affiliation allowed the clinic building at the Albert Lea facility to be next to the hospital, Myers said.

He hopes patients remember him as a doctor who cared for their needs.

“When people were sick or hurting, to help them feel better made me feel better,” Myers said. 

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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