A long-time local doctor’s perspective on its progression
Bayhealth Primary Care Physician Vincent Lobo, DO, DACFD, has been practicing medicine in southern Delaware for nearly five decades and has served in numerous other positions in the community. Given his extensive experience, Dr. Lobo is well suited to share how being a doctor and providing healthcare in southern Delaware has changed over the years.
Caring for patients in many places
When he opened his medical practice in Harrington in 1967, Dr. Lobo worked 10–12 hours per day, six days per week, and saw roughly 45–50 patients per day. Afterward, he would take care of any house calls (an average of two per week), provide coverage for three area nursing homes, and then be on call. He also served as a doctor at the Delaware State Fair because there were not any paramedics at the time.
“I would receive calls on the telephone beside my bed all through the night,” said Dr. Lobo. “After office hours, I had to call the hospital to see if there were any calls for me. In the late ’70s or early ’80s, the beeper system began, but you still had to find a phone. I remember one time I got paged while I was out and it was pouring rain. I finally found a pay phone, but I got drenched.”
Dr. Lobo says his favorite thing about house calls was getting to know the patient and their family on a personal level. “Even today, I enjoy hearing about their families.”
Specialists change role of family medicine
Dr. Lobo says during the late ’60s and early ’70s he would do minor surgeries in his office, because there weren’t many specialists at the time. “For example, there were not any orthopaedic specialists in Kent and Sussex counties. Eventually, a general surgeon who did some orthopaedic work came on board. Prior to that, one orthopaedic surgeon would come down from Wilmington once per week. We also only had one psychiatrist, and there weren’t any cardiologists back then. There was a family medicine doctor in Milford who also did a lot of internal medicine work at the hospital. Now, we have many specialists available, including nephrologists, cardiologists, and so on.”
Additionally, there’s a closer relationship between doctors and the hospital care team today — mostly because of hospitalists. “Before the hospitalists, I would align myself with the internists, and they would take care of my hospitalized patients,” explained Dr. Lobo. “The cooperation among the doctors and specialists, as well as hospital staff, today is excellent.”
Technology creates faster results
New technology has made a significant impact on how doctors practice medicine. “Technology is fantastic,” said Dr. Lobo. “Years ago, you had to send patients to the hospital for an x-ray and wait a long time for the results. Now, they can go next door [to an Outpatient Center] and have one, and you get the results right away. This is also true for EKG methods, which are much quicker, and MRI and CT scans and other advancements in diagnostic imaging have eliminated the need for exploratory surgery.”
“Lab availability is much better these days as well,” he added. “Sometimes you can get results the same day. It used to be several days, or even weeks, before you would get results from the lab.”
Changes in education and roles improve patient care
Dr. Lobo also remarked on changes in training and education and the role of the doctor in patient care. “Back when I was in medical school, the focus was on physical diagnosis. Now there is a greater emphasis on labs and technology. Computer skills are also important, especially for the medical assistants. The doctor used to be the head of the ship, but now patient care involves a real team approach. Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, technologists all work together. This has greatly improved the quality of care for the patient.”
Visit BayhealthSussex.org to learn more about the new Bayhealth Sussex Campus and to reflect on the history of Bayhealth Milford Memorial.
The role of doctors on the Bayhealth Sussex Campus
With the design and construction of the new Bayhealth Sussex Campus, the role of doctors has continued to evolve. As part of the project, many Bayhealth doctors recognized and weighed in on the impact the design of the new facility will have on the patient experience.
“We had the chair of the anesthesia department working with support services, such as laundry and materials, to maximize the efficiency of the design of the new hospital,” said Bayhealth Milford Memorial Vice President of Operations/Administrator Michael Ashton, FACHE. “Everyone’s input has been important.”
A new medical office building on the site — The Nemours Building — will also bring more doctors to the Bayhealth Sussex Campus, creating convenient access for care in Sussex County. It’s scheduled to open in 2020.