Family physician retiring after 30 years at practice
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - 6:49 am

To the Editor:

I am retiring from my practice of family medicine in the beautiful North Country of New York.

My husband, Dr. John Dewar, and I came here thirty years ago hoping to offer the full spectrum of family medicine to a rural community.

We were drawn to Canton and Potsdam because each community had a river running through the downtown and many backyards in each village had both a woodpile and a canoe. It seemed like it had to be the right place to work and raise three children.

We weren’t disappointed. Here we found a great rural hospital where we could deliver babies and care for our patients with a like-minded group of family doctors and pediatricians. We also became teachers of third year medical students through Upstate’s Rural Medical Education Department.

Four of our sixteen students, who spent an entire year up here with us, now practice medicine in St. Lawrence County. Two are presently on the active medical staff of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Dr. Tim Atkinson and Dr. Scott Spicer.

It takes a medical community to care for folks properly. I am grateful to the rest of the CPH medical staff, the hospital administration, the CPH nurses and employees, and the many in the community medical field from physical therapists to pharmacists who helped me take care of my patients over these thirty years.

I can’t write a thank you letter without a special thanks to my colleagues at Canton Family Physicians, PC. They have made a medical “home” for myself and my patients before the term was even in vogue.

In 1984, Dr. Jon Kay invited both John and I to join his private family practice. He was looking for one partner, but he took a couple.

Dr. Dan Palmateer joined us in 1988. The four of us ran the business with a handshake rather than a written contract. I was always very proud of that honesty and trust.

Dr. Florence Bero joined us in 2006 when Dr. Kay retired.

Margie Tupper has been at the reception desk even ten years before John and I arrived. April Haggett, RN, Ardie Richardson, LPN, and receptionist Deb Roberts were hired in 1985 to help patients that John and I brought into the practice. Those three have already retired and are missed by me.

Andrea Losey has done patient billing since 1994. Michelle Young, RN, Lisa Greenwood, LPN, Courney Vallance, LPN, and Marcy Adams, receptionist and my personal computer guru, keep the office humming now. John Parcell is our behind-the-scenes office manager keeping the private practice afloat in the troubled waters of medicine.

For the last year, I have been giving all of my regular patients a farewell letter and a list of practitioners who are taking on new patients. I know I haven’t reached everyone as there are those who have my name in their back pocket thinking they could always call me if they needed their inhaler refilled or had a medical question.

If you see this letter, and you are one of those folks, you can call the office, 386-8184, and we will forward you a list of providers with space in their practices. My office, Canton Family Physicians, PC, is still open for business and your medical records can be forwarded to the provided of your choice with your permission.

I am looking forward to having a bit more free time to enjoy this beautiful North Country. I will still work part time for Hospice and Pallative Care of St. Lawrence County, another organization dear to my heart for the last 28 years.

But I hope to join a book club, make a quilt, hike, canoe and snowshoe maybe become a 46er instead of just a 43er, and putter in the flower garden around our village house.

And if you drive by Burnham’s Corners, you may see me pulling weeds in my husband’s retirement venture, Village Veggies. Thank you and good health to all.

Sandra G. McCoy M.D.

Potsdam