My father hired the first Physician’s Assistant and mentored the first independent Nurse practitioner in New York State.
I think he found the work with the nurse practitioners to be especially rewarding. Gevie Kent, the first NP, worked in a rural clinic in Edmeston, NY. Others followed in other rural clinics, dotting the map around Cooperstown, bringing healthcare to the people of rural communities.
In 1991, Maureen Murray, a Bassett nurse, wrote a history of nursing at Bassett and included this, which, though it doesn’t mention my father by name, describes the role of the nurse practitioner:
In 1971, the Carnegie Commission studied the quality of rural medicine in the United States. The Commission recommended a nationwide system of regional health centers, including schools and hospitals, providing easy access to quality care for the nation’s people. In its report, entitled “Higher Education and the Nation’s Health: Policies for Medical and Dental Education,” Bassett Hospital is cited as the ideal prototype for the regional centers. As a result, Time Magazine carried an illustrated article based on the Carnegie Foundation’s report.
Nursing played a key role in 1972 when citizens from the nearby community of Edmeston approached the hospital for help in providing health care services as a replacement for a community physician who had retired. The issue was discussed with the hospital Joint Advisory Committee and resulted in the decision to select a Bassett staff nurse, send her for further education as a nurse practitioner, and establish a clinic with the nurse practitioner available to provide certain types of health care and follow-up visits for the Edmeston community. Consultative help and referrals would come from the hospital medical staff. Miss Genevieve Kent, RN, an Edmeston native was selected from the Pediatric staff to be the first nurse practitioner in the Bassett system. This was viewed as an experiment in the delivery of primary care and a possible solution to health care access in small rural communities…. Over the next 12 years, 12 more clinics, six of them staffed by nurse practitioners, would become part of a multi-site outreach network.
One NP told me, “I am so thankful for the time your father put into precepting me and the other nurse practitioners. The burnout rate today for NPs is so high because they don’t have people like your father to oversee and train them for as long as I had. He made sure we were competent and confident in our roles.”
Another wrote to him, “Thank you so much for your foresight and leadership. You have been a great mentor to Nurse Practitioners.”
Still another wrote, “Your mentorship meant a lot to me and your influence shaped so much of who I am now and my clinical practice…. I still remember how kind you were to me when I was new and how much I looked forward to meeting with you weekly.”
Another wrote this:
Dr. Pollock has been a sincere, caring teacher, believing in talking and listening to patients, showing us the small, redeeming acts of mercy. He reminded us to listen to our patients. He honored the shimmering mystery of what we are even when in pain, even as life leaks away. Remember the awe, the sense of being in the presence of something greater than oneself. Be a part of the healing.