Mark Withrow recently retired from a 38-year period as a Kodiak doctor at Kodiak Island Medical Associates.
He says while there are more than 20 doctors in town now, there were three when he arrived, and as a general physician with only a limited number of colleagues, he tackled every kind of health issue and area.
Withrow says he found one particularly rewarding.
“The part of medicine that was the most fun for me was a little bit of a surprise. It’s been obstetrics. Having people get pregnant, sometimes difficult pregnancies, many times just wonderful pregnancies. So, that’s been the most fun for me. And I didn’t think that would ever be what I would like the best, but it was the best.”
He says obstetrics has changed over the years. For instance, doctors used to carry the baby to a warmer directly after birth, whereas now they hand the newborn to its mother.
There have been a lot of new developments in the world of medicine, but also in other industries that have had a profound effect on the medical field. Like, Withrow says, the introduction of survival suits.
“You know, there wasn’t survival suits invented when I came here, so if people when the boat went down, it was really almost a death sentence. If people get to the emergency room alive, they’re gonna make it, and it’s getting to the emergency room alive that is the key thing, so it’s really the Coast Guard that helps people survive.”
Withrow says he retired in February and flew off to New Zealand with his wife to visit their daughter. He explains that while he’s no longer seeing patients in the clinic, he is going into work most days. He says now that he’s retired, he’ll have more flexibility in his schedule and will dedicate more time to gardening and fixing things around the office.