Hugh Chatham Hospital held a service last Friday morning in honor of Dr. William Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon and physician from Mount Airy who passed away last year in May.
During the service, hospital staff members got together to remember the 62-year-old physician and his warm contributions to the hospital and its patients. After several speakers, a small buffet was held for people to enjoy.
“We wanted to remember him,” said Dr. Skip Whitman. “We wanted to remember the fun times and all the good things he did for Hugh Chatham. The work he did was incredible. He enjoyed the clinic but he lived for the operating room. I don’t know if Bill ever raised his voice in the operating room. Everything was cool with him. I remember operating with him a few times and he was actually whistling and singing while he was working. He just lit everything up.”
Hospital CEO Paul Hammes read an excerpt from Ezekiel 37, commonly known as the “Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones,” and talked about the important of both physical and spiritual wellness.
“I find this reading very meaningful for a couple of reasons,” said Hammes. “First of all, everyone of us wants to be well. We want to be whole, and we want to be healed. While physical health is important, it is only one part of the total equation. Dr. Bill Johnson was a exquisitely talented and highly trained physician who had an extraordinary gift for healing. Diagnosing the most complex cases with great precision, intervening surgically with confidence, facility, and sound judgment, this is simply what Bill Johnson did and loved doing.”
Dr. Johnson was remembered not only for his great skill as a practitioner of medicine, but also for his warm interactions with patients.
“They would tell you not only about their great surgical outcome, but also about how they made you feel, about his warm smile and kind temperament and easy going demeanor,” said Hammes. “They would talk about how he treated them with dignity and respect without consideration to their means or their stage in life. Dr. Johnson was able to fix many things but perhaps what made him so extraordinary was that he healed far more than just broken or dry bones. He made people whole again.”
“I’m still amazed at the work I saw him do,” said Skip Whitman. “He would go into the clinic and there would be this flurry of activity. Patients would be going in and out, in and out, and he always ten steps ahead of everyone else. He would already be thinking of the next patient. Is was just incredible.
Dr. John Orta spoke about his experiences with Dr. Johnson as both a professional and a friend and how he taught him things outside of the operating room.
“I had the pleasure of having a dual life with him; work and our personal time,” said Dr. John Orta. “He was an avid cyclist. The things I learned from Bill of course were fantastic in so many ways because I learned why he did things the way he did for those personal moments. I spent thousand of hours with him cycling.
“One of the things I learned about him was his commitment to family. He would do everything he could to get me to change my schedule so I could go cycling with him. But on Mondays, I could not even ask him one time if he had some free time because for him, that was Amy’s night. I loved his commitment to family and I try to do that with my family as well.”
To commemorate Dr. Johnson and his services, the hospital decided to hold a campaign with the medical staff and the staff of the hospital to do a naming for Dr. Johnson in the operating room. A plaque with Johnson’s name will be placed on the wall of operating room number four in memory of him.
“I don’t think we’ve ever done this where we’ve come together like this and done a naming,” said Dr. Whitman.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.