Dr. Cook retires fully after 45 years | News, Sports, Jobs
Dr George Cook has been a physician and friend of the North Country for 45 years, and on Tuesday, June 29, he will retire from Adirondack Health for the second time.
“It was wonderful for me” Cook said. “I really appreciated the opportunity to live in Saranac Lake.
He came to Saranac Lake in November 1975 thanks to a tip from Dr. Roy Slaunwhite.
“He said, ‘Look at Saranac Lake on the map. They might need another pediatrician. So I got in my car two days later on a Saturday night around midnight in Buffalo, I drove here, I saw the lake, I saw the hospital, I saw the mountains, I am walked into the emergency room and I said your new pediatrician. ‘ It was a surprise, of course.
Twenty minutes later, around 6:30 a.m., CEO Jack Murphy walked in and after talking for two hours, Cook, in fact, became the new pediatrician along with Slaunwhite.
Within a year, Cook, Slaunwhite and Dr Barry Kilbourne were all working in the basement of dentist John Murray’s current office, with three small examination rooms.
Doctors came to play an important role in raising awareness in surrounding areas, including launching the health center still operated by Adirondack Health in St. Regis Falls in 1976.
“We were seeing at least 100 patients a week up there between the four of us,” he said.
He said he and Slaunwhite went on to become doctors at Paul Smith’s College, St. Regis Falls and Saranac Lake high schools, and Ray Brook State Prison.
“All this because the people who were in private practice at the time did not leave the city. he said. “The outreach we were hired for outside of the region has been extremely successful in the northern level. “
In the decades that followed, Cook, Slaunwhite, and Kilbourne shared a successful practice in the Doctor and Surgeon’s Building on the Adirondack Medical Center campus, where they have cared for thousands of patients and generations of families.
“I have a family where I have been involved in the care of six generations,” he said. “Once you are a generation or two taking care of people, the family develops a comfort and a trust with you. “
He said working for Adirondack Health allowed him to mold his work around his personal needs at the time. He said he was able to develop a formula for being a family doctor and a pediatrician that really worked for him.
“I knew I could never leave Saranac Lake, and I would never want to give up any of the relationships I had worked to establish with my patients,” he said. “My mantra has always been, ‘Let me in these rooms because that’s where the people are. I was so captivated by what it meant to get to know people.
In the early years, at the age of 31, Cook began to pay special attention to patients who were additives 10 from his age… 41, 51, 61, 71, etc. He said asking them a bit more about how they were going to help them. educate him for things like end-of-life planning. He said he recommends this little technique to anyone in the medical profession.
“I spent a very special time talking with them about the trajectory of their life, which has helped me enormously to understand and accept the trajectory of my life”, he said. “I did it for them, but I did it for me too. I learned so much and I was in a special place to do it because I took care of people from all walks of life.
When Slaunwhite retired in 2013, Cook also retired – for three days. He then returned to work one day a week on Tuesday at the Tupper Lake Health Center.
“Between 2013 and 2021, I implemented a whole new practice”, he said. “I didn’t think it was right to continue in pediatric care, because I knew I was at such a point in my life that I wasn’t going to be able to follow these children into their teens. Probably half of my practice was made up of new patients as of 2013. It was another reinvention.
One of his most memorable moments as a doctor, and there are many, came around 1977 when a 2-year-old boy was found submerged near the Colby Lake Conservation Camp. He had been underwater for at least 30 minutes. He was rushed to hospital by car and needed a tracheostomy, so Cook was called from home.
“He had pulmonary edema, convulsions, coma, aspiration pneumonia but we couldn’t take him anywhere”, Cook said. “I took this kid as a project and helped him survive. I was at his bedside almost every day for two weeks, even in the middle of the night, until he could be transported to Burlington.
Years later, Cook said the boy graduated from Paul Smith’s College. One day he stopped by to see Cook and thank him.
“It was absolutely amazing to see this kid” he said, adding that the man had married and had children. “It came full circle for me, and it was just wonderful.”
Cook said his own family has benefited a lot from life in this area, including his four children.
“Five out of six of us are in the medical profession”, he said. “The whole family ended up in medicine and without any encouragement from me. I was happy for them, but I didn’t push them.
His family will be a big part of his retirement.
“I have a wonderful family,” he said. “I have children who are in 17 time zones.”
Her daughter Jessica lives in Thailand and her daughter Annelies (2014 Olympic biathlete) in Germany. His daughter Marlena is a medical student at the University of Vermont and his son Matt is a medical assistant at Northern Nephrology in Plattsburgh.
“I’m pretty involved in traveling to visit family,” he said. “I have never stopped traveling.
Brittany Proulx is the Internal Communications Coordinator for Adirondack Health and a former Editor-in-Chief of Enterprise News. Cook was his doctor from his childhood until his twenties.