By Dan Rankin
Hospital staff past and present packed the cafeteria at St. Marys Memorial Hospital Wednesday afternoon for a party with a dual purpose. The first was to wish Dr. Chuck Gatfield, who turned 50 yesterday, a happy birthday. The second was to congratulate the doctor on his retirement from regular Emergency department shifts after 22 years.
“He tried to leave quietly,” said E.R. registered nurse Heather Brock. “I came onto day shift at the end of January and I asked him when his last shift was, and he said, ‘that was it.’ He tried to walk away, and I could see what he was trying to do and I didn’t like it.”
During the party, cake and refreshments were served, and staff told stories about the doctor from over the years.
“I thought we had to do something, so this was born,” Brock said.
Speaking of being born, one retired staff member recalled a night 20 years ago, during the last shift before Dr. Gatfield’s wedding, when he was informed that he was going to need to deliver a premature baby.
As he didn’t yet have much practice in that procedure, and unaware a hoax was being perpetrated on him by the on-duty staff, he called in a veteran doctor to assist him. That doctor, who wasn’t in on the gag, sped towards the hospital only to learn upon his arrival that it was a man laying on the stretcher rolled in by ambulance staff — another hospital worker – who was not in need of their assistance.
“That was amazing,” Dr. Gatfield recalled. “That was the best prank they ever had.”
Dr. Gatfield said he will still be doing backup emergency shifts and all the other hospital work he typically does outside of regular emergency shifts. “Nothing else changes,” he said.
“He will still be around to visit and antagonize us,” Brock joked.
Asked if he had any tips on how to be heart healthy, as February is Heart Month, Dr. Gatfield, carrying a plate of birthday cake, deadpanned “avoid cake and icing.”
“Stay fit and active,” he said, more seriously, adding that a “Mediterranean diet” rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, herbs, seeds and olive oil, as well as fish, and plenty of water is a good heart healthy diet.