The '$5 doctor' practices medicine from bygone era
RUSHVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Patients line up early outside his office just off the town square, waiting quietly for the doctor to arrive, as he has done for nearly 60 years.
Dr. Russell Dohner is, after all, a man of routine, a steady force to be counted on in uncertain times.
Wearing the fedora that has become his trademark, he walks in just before 10 a.m., after rising early to make rounds at the local hospital. There are no appointments. He takes his patients in the order they sign in — first come, first-served. His office has no fax machines or computers. Medical records are kept on hand-written index cards, stuffed into row upon row of filing cabinets.
The only thing that has changed, really — other than the quickness of the doctor's step or the color of his thinning hair — is his fee. When Dohner started practicing medicine in Rushville in 1955, he charged the going rate around town for an office visit: $2.
1. When I was a teenager, I did part-time recordkeeping for just such a doctor
He was a friend of my grandparents.
The area where his office was located gradually turned into a ghetto area during his lifetime, and he charged $5 for an office visit, probably equivalent to $25 today. His medical knowledge wasn't always up-to-date, but he was affordable medical care.
My job was to take the entries from his notebook and put them on those index cards.