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Interview with James Tidler, April 7, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with James Tidler, April 7, 2005
April 7, 2005
In this interview, Dr. James Tidler, a practicing physician in Wilmington from 1949 to 1992, shares observations from his life and career. His discussion ranges from attending medical school at the advent of the Second World War and serving with the Army Specialized Medical Corps to changes in the medical community in Wilmington, including his relationship with the James Walker School of Nursing and the opening of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Tidler, James Interviewer: Mims, LuAnn / Parnell, Gerry Date of Interview: 4/7/2005 Series: SENC Health Services Length 60 minutes

Mims: Today is April the 7th, 2005. I am LuAnn Mims with Gerry Parnell for the Randall Library Special Collections, and we are continuing our series on Health Services of Southeastern North Carolina. Today we are talking to Dr. James Tidler who has been a physician in Wilmington for how many years?

James Tidler: Well, let's see...1949 to now, what is that...ah...

Mims:'s a long time.

James Tidler: Fifty...six years. Fifty six years.

Mims: Well we are very pleased to be able to talk with you today.

James Tidler: Yes ma'am, thank you.

Mims: I've had...several of the nurses that we've interviewed have spoken very highly of you and felt that we would be very remiss if we did not include you in our little series.

James Tidler: Well, that's very good, I'm glad some of 'em...have some good words to say.

Mims: Well, let's go back to your early life. Can you give us a little bit about where you were born, what type of family you came from, and where?

James Tidler: Yes, I was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia and...on July 29th, 1920...and my father was a lawyer in Clarksburg and so I lived there until I went to college West Virginia University, and I went there in 1938 and I finished there in '41 and...1941, and then I went to the Medical College of Virginia for my medical education. And you want me just to ramble about all that?

Mims: Well, part of your life lead you into medicine. Your father was an attorney.

James Tidler: Father was an attorney, he didn't want me to be an attorney, and he had some uncles that were doctors and always wanted me to be a doctor. When I started in college in premed, I got about one semester behind me and I told my folks, "I don't think I want to be a doctor, I think I want to be an engineer"...because I like mathematics better than chemistry and things like that. But they encouraged me not to change my mind and I didn't and it wasn't any big deal, but it was a little...but that's about all. My father always wanted me to be a doctor, he had doctors in his family and...and so...

Mims: Did you have any brothers or sisters interested in medicine?

James Tidler: One sister, not interested in medicine. She was seven years older than I I think I came along seven years after her as a sort of a surprise and she just died last year at the age of 90.

Mims: Um.

James Tidler: And she was...she went to West Virginia University also and got her masters degree from Duke and she was a school teacher. And she married an entrepreneur from a town near us in West Virginia and I guess she outlived him by about five or six years.

Mims: So, while you were in college and you're taking these courses to go into medicine, did you try to convince your dad you did want to do engineering, or...?

James Tidler: Well I didn't do too much trying to convince, I just told him I...that's what I wanted to do.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: But didn't (dog barking in background)...

Mims: It's okay, it's alright. Um...

James Tidler: Cut it off one second and let me...I can get...

Mims: Okay, so you went to the Medical College of Virginia. Did got there in 1941, right?

James Tidler: Yes, September of 1941.

Mims: Okay, and we know what happened in December of 1941.

James Tidler: That's exactly right.

Mims: So how did that affect you?

James Tidler: It affected me greatly. I started out just as an ordinary student and when the war started the Army and Navy took over all the medical students. And it was a matter...either a matter of joining up with that or going directly, you know, being know subject to drafting. And so they put is in...and I went in the Army in the...what the called the Army Specialized Medical Corps.

Mims: Now, so you're...

James Tidler: And the Navy had the same thing. Part of the students went into the Navy.

Mims: Was this to continue your training or were you actually serving in another capacity?

James Tidler: No this was as a medical student.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: a matter of fact, I was lucky in one regard, they paid for my education from that point...period on. And so when I got through medical school the...let's see, I was able to take an internship for one year, and then I had to go serve in the Army as you know, in the regular Army. By that time I was a second lieutenant. Going to medical school, I was a private first class.

Mims: Really?

James Tidler: That's...that's what they...the way they did it.

Mims: Where were you assigned?

James Tidler: Uh, let's see...well, first place I went was...I guess Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania to their medical field training school. We were there for about six weeks and then I was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia.

Parnell: This was after your internship?

James Tidler: Yes.

Parnell: Where did you intern at?

James Tidler: Same place, at the Medical College of Virginia, yea. And so then I moved around several places after Fort Benning. Actually about that time it was VE day and after VE day, of course VJ day had not happened and they transferred me to Fort Bliss, Texas. And I stayed there about six months getting people out of the service. You know in the physical exams get folks out.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: And then after that I was transferred...well I might as well just skip one little...I had one little spot that I stayed about a month at Newton D. Baker General Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia. But then they closed up and I was transferred to Fort Benning...not Fort Benning, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. And I stayed there until my service time was finished which was two years total time in the Army active duty.

Mims: Were you primarily doing physical exams of the service people, or...?

James Tidler: I was at Fort Bliss.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: Now at Fort Benning I was working as a doctor in the hospital. I had a ward to myself and the same thing at Fort Belvoir. I had my own ward and treated soldiers that were...I didn't treat any war injuries or anything like that cause I was in internal medicine. I didn't do surgery. I was in internal medicine. Anyhow I was discharged from Fort Belvoir as a captain in the Army and then I got a residency Washington, D.C. at...oh gosh...Garfield Memorial Hospital, Washington, D.C. And is stayed there for two years and qualified for Board of Internal Medicine and I finished there and came to Wilmington.

Mims: What brought you to Wilmington?

James Tidler: Ah...just...I just kinda shopped around for places I wanted to live. I wanted to get out of the cold country and so I looked mostly in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, and I don't think I went anywhere else. And ended up in Wilmington. that time it was hard to find an office.

Mims: Hum.

James Tidler: Because there weren't any offices available and I met Dr. William Dosher in Wilmington and he was in obstetrics and gynecology but he was building an office and he had some extra space and he offered me some space. So besides the fact that I liked Wilmington and liked the city and the set up here, I had that office opportunity, so I went in his office building. So...

Mims: What was the process like? Once you came into town, you found the office space, what was the next step?

James Tidler: Well, the next...

Mims: To get credentials at the hospital?

James Tidler: Yes, you applied to staff at the hospital and that wasn't any problem. He...he helped me a lot in that he referred me patients. See, of course I didn't know anybody, no one knew me.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And at that time you didn't advertise like the doctors do now. In fact that was taboo to advertise.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And, you know, that was very unprofessional. And when I had to just build up a practice by word of mouth and by referral from other doctors that were here. And Dr. Dosher was one of those that helped me a lot. And there were some others, people that did surgery and other types of practices referred me patients.

Mims: Where...where was his office?

James Tidler: It was behind James...the old James Walker Hospital on North Eleventh Street.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: I think it was 306 N. Eleventh Street if I recall the address correctly. And next door to us was Dr. Robinson and Graham who were surgeons.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: On the other side, Dr. Knox who was a pediatrician. And so...

Mims: Once you were established, then did you join the Medical Society, or is this something...?

James Tidler: Oh yea.

Mims: ...that you have to join?

James Tidler: Oh yea, join the Medical Society as well as the hospital staff. The local medical society, county medical society, and the state medical society.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And the AMA. And then, of course, I had the...societies in internal medicine.

Mims: Um.

James Tidler: The North Carolina Society of Internal Medicine had a chapter and I joined that and...well, let's see...

Mims: Well we're kind of trying to figure out somewhat the transition to the specialty practices. Before I guess the Flexor Report, everybody just kind of was a doctor and did all kinds of different things, and then the specialties kind of started...

James Tidler: No, not in my time.

Mims: Okay. Everybody just went into a specialty?

James Tidler: Well, if they were qualified for it, if they were trained for a specialty.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: Now there were some folks who...who did not take any specialty training...

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: ...and they went into general practice. But I had internal medicine training and I was qualified for the board, the American Board of Internal Medicine, which is took later and passed the board, and then I got into...actually while I was in my training back in Washington, I got interested in Cardiology and so I got into doing cardiology. And I had a lot of training electrocardiography which was the biggest thing in cardiology back then. And so not only did I become board certified in internal medicine, I was eligible for the American College of Physicians which was an internal medicine association and then I qualified myself for American College of Cardiology. And actually I was the first member of the...or fellow of the American College of Cardiology in Wilmington.

Mims: Hum.

James Tidler: So...

Mims: See this is the kind of information that we can't find in books, it's not written down and its this development...because now when you go to the doctor, you assume that they are members of these different organizations, but...

James Tidler: Yea. Well you get into these...these organizations like I'm recently speaking of after some time in practice. You fact you don't take the...back then you didn't take the examination for the American Board of Internal Medicine until you'd been in practice two years after your residency.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And so, did that, and then you...after you got that you...then you applied for a fellowship in the American College of Physicians, which is did, and I have...I don't have the dates in my mind right now.

Mims: That's okay.

James Tidler: Although I've got certificates on the wall here going up the stairs upstairs. And then following that I qualified for the American College of Cardiology and became a fellow in that. Like I said, I was the first one in Wilmington and I was able to sponsor other doctors for the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Warshauer was one of them, even though he was older than I.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: He was not a member and he did cardiology also and so I got him in that. And Dr. Pigford, I sponsored him for it, and I can't think of anyone else maybe that I did do that.

Mims: Well some of the older doctors that were in town when you were coming along, they were not into these different practices. Like somebody like Dr. Fales who wasn't a specialist, he was...

James Tidler: No he wasn't. Dr. Fales took surgical training...

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: ...but he was not qualified for the American Board...or American Board of Surgery.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: And I don't think he ever because so. And...

Mims: So we're trying to figure out how that fit in with the hospital setting...

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: I mean the fact that you guys are coming in that are certified...

James Tidler: Yea...Dr. Dosher was certified in the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And there were others that were. And there were some other board certified surgeons, Dr. Koonce, I think was, and Dr. Graham probably was.

Mims: Charles Graham?

James Tidler: Charles Graham, I think he was. And I don't know about Dr. Robinson, he was older and you know that may not have been the ____ when he came along.

Mims: Right. Cause you''re a new guy coming into a hospital that's been open, well, you come in the forties, it's been going for forty years. So you've got doctors that have been well in place.

James Tidler: Oh yes, oh yes. Dr. Murchison was sort of the father of internal medicine in Wilmington. Although I don't think he was board certified. I don't believe he was but I'm not sure of that. Dr. Warshauer was.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And, let's see...Dr...I'll tell you another one who was here that was board certified in internal medicine, saw his...was saw his picture...

Mims: Yea, let me see, um...well, um, we keep talking about James Walker, was that the primary hospital that you worked at, or...?

James Tidler: It was the only one I worked at.

Mims: It was the only one you worked at. I think we start right here...

James Tidler: Medicine...

Mims: Cause we also had Bullocks Hospital here.

James Tidler: Yea, but those folks were Dr. Sinclair and Mebane and Dr. Bullock, of course, started it. I didn't know Dr. Bullock, he had died before I came to town.

Mims: He died in like...yea, he died around the beginning of the war or something.

James Tidler: Yea, so...but Dr. Mebane and Sinclair were mainly the ones, and then Dr. Samuel Pace came here and joined in with them. And none of them were board certified folks as far as I know.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: Well I don't see...

Mims: How about Community Hospital, did you ever have anything to do with them?

James Tidler: I never did practice there, no, no I never did.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: I don't see the other doctor I was thinking about.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: I guess he was not here. He may have died before this was...

Mims: Well as far as the medical...

James Tidler: Sixty, six? I don't know.

Mims: ...yea...the medical society goes, we had talked to, I think it was Dr. Williams who said that when he came the medical society could all sit around one table.

James Tidler: That's...that's correct.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: He came right after I did.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: He and I are exactly the same age but he had surgical training which was a little longer than medical. And so he came, I guess, about a year after I did, about 1950.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And I started in '49.

Mims: Well, considering the amount of doctors that are in Wilmington now, you could certainly not fit around one table.

James Tidler: I'll tell you, when I came to town, my recollection is there were seventy doctors in Wilmington. And now I would guess there's six hundred.

Mims: I think that's what we've heard, six or seven hundred.

James Tidler: Yea. There might be more now! So...let's see...I don't know, what do you want...

Mims: So you set up your practice and you got credentials at the hospital and, you know, continued with your career...can you give us any insight into James Walker Hospital? What that was like for you, or...

James Tidler: Well...

Mims: You had worked at these other hospitals, certainly, and...

James Tidler: Well, yes, but not to any great degree. But of course I worked in the Medical College of Virginia hospitals...

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: ...and I worked in medical school and I worked in the one in Washington which was a more or less private hospital, but it was affiliated with George Washington University. It wasn't the George Washington Hospital, they had a hospital besides that. But the majority it was affiliated with them and our staff members were mainly George Washington University medical staff.

Mims: Well, Walker was, I guess, kind of on the smaller side, cause they didn't have a big...

James Tidler: No.

Mims: ...teaching program going as far as physicians was concerned, right?

James Tidler: No, we had...we did have interns that were, you know, one year interns that came after medical school.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And it got in the later years where it was hard to get them because of the competition with the big hospitals.

Mims: Really?

James Tidler: And so we started getting mostly foreign interns, not many Americans.

Mims: Hum.

James Tidler: And that was a big problem. A lot...a lot of it was a language problem.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And I used to, of course when I was taking calls for the emergency room, and we had foreign interns in the hospital...if they'd call me about a patient that was there, that wasn't mine, you know, that just came in unassigned, I had difficulty conversing with them over the phone. And so I would just get out of bed and go to the hos...the emergency room and see them myself. But we had some American interns and American trained and some foreign interns that spoke fairly good English, so that wasn't exclusively the problem, but that was a problem.

Mims: What about the integration issue? We know Walker was a segregated hospital.

James Tidler: It was segregated to start with, yes.

Mims: So how would that have been if you had somebody, you know, a foreigner that was maybe darker skinned, would that be affected at all?

James Tidler: No, no, no.

Mims: Okay.

Parnell: About how many interns a year would James Walker have?

James Tidler: Hum, that's a good question. Six or seven, something like that.

Mims: Yea, that's what I'm thinking.

James Tidler: Not a lot.

Mims: Who would oversee them?

James Tidler: The...the staff doctors, like me.

Mims: Just all over, I mean...

James Tidler: Ah...yea. When they were...they would rotated through services...

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: ...medicine, surgery, pediatrics...

Mims: I didn't realize that.

James Tidler: ...obstetrics and gynecology. And so when they were on that service, the doctors who specialized in that field who were on the staff, had them under their training. And I...I had a bunch of 'em. As a matter of fact, some of the doctors town now were interns under me at James Walker. Dr. Armistead is an example.

Mims: Really? Howard Armistead?

James Tidler: Howard Armistead.

Mims: Oh, okay.

James Tidler: Um...let's see, I'm trying to think if there are anymore in town right now. There are some that went to practice in...

Mims: Was Dr. Yue and intern? Cause I thought we...

James Tidler: Ah, Dr. Yue was a surgical resident.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: He came along later.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: After they started having residencies, and...

Mims: Now was that a harder program to get established, a residency program?

James Tidler: Oh yea, oh yes, yes. It required certain credentials by the AMA and the boards of the specialties, and so that's true. Um...

Mims: The size of James Walker I think kept if from becoming, you know, a bigger chain hospital, I mean that's what I'm...

James Tidler: Well, it did, but it just kind of evolved to that. Up until more recent years, not real recent, but in years after I came here, they all trained at the medical center hospitals...medical school hospitals. And...

Mims: Did you ever have any association with the school of nursing that was at James Walker? Did you do any teaching?

James Tidler: Oh yea, I had a lot of association with them. (phone ringing) Oh, there's my...if you'll excuse...

Mims: Alright, so did...did you do any instruction?

James Tidler: Yea, I...I did a lot. I taught medicine to the student nurses.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: And I did that for, I don't know, four or five years, I guess, until the...really until the school of nursing closed, and I don't know what year that was.

Mims: Well '66 was the last graduating class.

James Tidler: Okay then, there you go, yea that's right, you did have that. So, yea I taught in the program from I guess 1950 until then.

Mims: Would you teach in a classroom setting or would this be in the hospital itself?

James Tidler: It was in the hospital in their classroom.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And...yea, I did that.

Mims: Was this always to your schedule, or was there a specific time?

James Tidler: No, they gave me a schedule. I'm trying to think of the lady who was...

Mims: Deedee Griff as over admin for a while.

James Tidler: Yea, she was, yea, but she wasn't the nursing school.

Mims: Um, Dorothy Dixon was there for...

James Tidler: Yea, she was, but she's not the one that I worked with mostly. I'll tell you in a second maybe. Well...

Mims: Lucy Marsten...I'm trying to think...

James Tidler: Yea she was the...she was the head of the...head of the school, but...

Mims: We hear all these names come up repeatedly and we know some of them made it over to UNCW once that the nursing school got pick up by the college.

James Tidler: Ah...Jenkins.

Mims: Jenkins.

James Tidler: What was her first name? I don't really see her in here, just thumbing through here...

Mims: But she was the one that set the schedule?

James Tidler: Yea, she set my schedule, now maybe she was just in the medicine part of the school. I think maybe she was.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: Oh, gosh, I can't think of her first name.

Mims: We have talked to a large number of nurses, both from James Walker and from Community Hospital that were in the diploma training course. And this total emersion into the hospital setting and instruction with physicians, doesn't seem like that's being done anymore in the current nursing education programs.

James Tidler: No. Uh huh.

Mims: What do you think about that particular change in nursing education?

James Tidler: Well, you know, of course everybody was associated with James Walker at that time. None of 'em were any higher...

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: ...educationally.

Mims: Well part of the idea was that the modern nurse needed more training in technical measures and kind of getting away from bedside nursing arts and that was the move to the academic environment.

James Tidler: Yea, well, know, of course they didn't...and they don't, as far as I know, they don't get much clinical exposure when they're in nursing school at UNCW or...or Cape Fear.

Mims: Not like these young girls who land in the hospital...

James Tidler: No not like there...they were in the hospital all the time, yea.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: Cause that's why I was asking about schedules cause we've had some of the nurses talk about having to work at night and then be at their class, or their instruction the next morning.

James Tidler: Yea, yea, yea. They...I'm sure they did that, you know, I...I've kind of forgotten the details of all that, but...

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: I...I see Ms...oh gosh, she was a big wheel in the school of nursing.

Mims: Uh huh, Daphne Jeffords.

James Tidler: Jeffords...Daphne Jeffords, that right!

Mims: Yea, I do recognize her.

James Tidler: Yea, Daphne Jeffords, absolutely.

Mims: Um, we know, cause there's some nostalgia kind of stuff that we've come across...and one of them was a lady in the office that they called the encyclopedia. Do you recall her at all? She, I guess, knew everything about the hospital. you know who I'm talking about, I can't think of what her last name is...?

Parnell: ...forgot her last name...

Mims: A little lady sitting behind the think of what her name is.

James Tidler: She wasn't a nurse?

Mims: No, was not a nurse. Was in the business office.

James Tidler: Yea, I know who you're talking...I do know who you're talking about.

Mims: Yea, we...we saw an article about her and they called her the encyclopedia, but we've not met anybody who, you know, recalls...

James Tidler: She was actually...and I don't know whether she...maybe she...

Mims: I can't find her picture in there, I should have brought another annual.

James Tidler: Maybe you're talking about the secretary in the nursing office. I'm thinking about the secretary in the administrative office.

Mims: That's what I'm thinking, is that she was in the ad...administration office.

James Tidler: Um...

Mims: Perhaps an older lady...but she...

James Tidler: Oh yea.

Mims: ...she retired, I think, when the hospital closed, as far as...

James Tidler: Yea, I think she did. I don't think she went to New Hanover.

Mims: New Hanover. Well what about the opening of New Hanover? We hear some doctors talk about that they were for the bond issues, some did not think it was such a good idea, where did you fall in this?

James Tidler: Oh, well, now you see, there was a big dividing line between the Bullock Hospital and Cape Fear Hospital and James Walker. The Cape Fear Hospital folks did not want the new hospital because they thought they were gonna get swallowed up or...

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: ...or...

Mims: Which they eventually did!

James Tidler: eventually did, that's...that's correct. But Drs. Mebane and Sinclair politicked against the new hospital very much. In fact, the year of the first voting on the bond issue, I was president of the New Hanover/Pender...

Mims: Medical society?

James Tidler: .../Brunswick Medical Society, and I was one of the ones working on it. Dr. Fales was a big worker on it too. But was the president at that time and...and Drs. Mebane and Sinclair came to visit me and try to talk me into getting on their team, and I...of course I wasn't going to do that, I was for the new hospital. And it failed the first time. And then the second time, I was not president then, I guess, but it did pass. And...

Mims: going to the new hospital and all of the work that that hospital authority board did, we have had a chance to talk to Seymour Alper.

James Tidler: Oh yea, Seymour...

Mims: And he's given us some...

James Tidler: Oh yea, Seymour was on the...

Mims: ...details about that from a doctors perspective.

James Tidler: Yea. I was on the last James Walker board also.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: And...

Mims: So were you able to oversee some of the new hospital and get input into it's...

James Tidler: I didn't get much input...well, I guess we did some, but I didn't get too much input into the architectural features of it. As a matter of fact, when the hospital was finally finished they suddenly realized they didn't have an intensive care unit...(laughing)...and so they had to combine some rooms on the fifth floor...

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: ...knock down the petitions between the rooms, and make an intensive care.

Parnell: And I've not heard that before!

James Tidler: Yep, that was certainly the case.

Mims: Well, um...

James Tidler: And the architects did not provide for that, and I don't know why I didn't happen to notice it. I guess I didn't see much of that planning.

Mims: Well there was an intensive care unit at James Walker, wasn't there?

James Tidler: Uh...

Mims: Hadn't that been started...

James Tidler: Yea, yea.

Mims: ...before they moved?

James Tidler: Yea, there was, yea.

Mims: So it seems like...

James Tidler: ...there was...

Mims: ...that is a really huge oversight, but I had...had not heard that before either.

James Tidler: Now you know maybe I'm...maybe I'm speaking out of turn...maybe I'm talking about coronary care.

Mims: The CCU unit.

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: CCU.

Mims: Cause again, the specialty units were kind of, I wouldn't say brand new in the sixties, but the hospitals were...

James Tidler: I know we didn't have a coronary care unit, so maybe that's what we...

Mims: I think...I think so.

James Tidler: I think that's what I'm talking about.

Mims: Cause I think Dr. Warshauer mentioned something about...about that, so...

James Tidler: Yea, I think that's what it was.

Mims: So they had to...

James Tidler: They had do knock down partitions to make a coronary care unit.

Mims: Right, um hum.

James Tidler: But back in James Walker we had the patient's who had heart attacks, the coronary care folks, in the general intensive care unit. I...I believe that's correct. You know, I don't know why my memory is so vague about that.

Mims: When did telemetry come into effect?

James Tidler: Ah, after we go...after we got in the...

Mims: New Hanover?

James Tidler: ...New...New Hanover. Shirley Sutton? You know Shirley?

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: She and I, and Dr. Warshauer, and Dr. Pigford got into the telemetry business. that started.

Mims: Hum. Cause now its, you know, automatic, you know, but I guess at one time it was, you know, a brand new...

James Tidler: Oh yea, it was brand new then. In fact if you'll excuse...can you cut me off?

Mims: Sure.

Mims: Let's come back to some of the changes in technology that affected your...your line of work here. We were talking about the telemetry machines, what else was there?

James Tidler: Um...well, like I say I did a lot of cardiology.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And cardiology...the...the newer cardiologists that came to town, more newly trained started doing the invasive type of work, and I didn't do that, and I wouldn't...didn't care to get into that, and I sort of backed off from it to some degree.

Mims: You stayed like medical management type, is that mainly what you did, was...?

James Tidler: Well, you know, in my "hey day" there wasn't any of this invasive type, like you know, Swan-Ganz catheters and um...angiograms, coronary angiograms, and...or angioplasty, know all those things came along...and bypass surgery, and...

Mims: What about something like that we...we see all the time, the EKG? Um...I thought it was Dr. Warshauer or somebody who said that they had to bring their own cart, their own EKG cart into the hospital...

James Tidler: We did...we did originally, yea, yea. But then the hospital bought EKG machines.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: And Dr. Warshauer and I, and two other doctors that are deceased now, Dr. Pickard and Dr. Pigford...we started the EKG department in the hospital.

Mims: Um James Walker?

James Tidler: At James Walker. And we read in rotation.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: Ah...a month at a time back then. We read all the cardiograms that were done by the hospital. But now, you know, you could bring your own machine in and to your own if you wanted to and then...but after the hospital started doing them, we didn't do that much anymore. And so yea, and then it evolved into more and more doctors coming and getting on the staff and it got down to the fact that you were on rotation once a week, I mean...for a week at a time. And you wouldn't...when I quit reading, which was just only a year or two ago, wouldn't get on the reading service, more than once a year.

Mims: Wow!

James Tidler: There were so many of us. And so...some years there'd be two...two weeks that you'd get, but other years, only one. So, yea that...that was a factor, certainly.

Mims: And, said you didn't...did you do any type of radiology?

James Tidler: No, I didn't do any radio...I only did internal medicine and cardiology.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: And, no I didn't do any radiology at all.

Mims: Cause it seems like EKG is connected with radiology...?

James Tidler: No.

Mims: No, it's not?

James Tidler: No, no. Actually, maybe way back, the radiologists had the only EKG machine.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: That might be...I think that might be true.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: know, I don't remember that too...

Mims: It is kind of a blurry...

James Tidler: That wasn't much of a factor, though.

Mims: Yea, right.

James Tidler: They didn't do the...

Mims: What else do you...?

James Tidler: ...actually I don't...I don't...I'm not sure that's even true.

Mims: What else do you the key changes?

James Tidler: Well, I don't know, of course just...not general knowledge of many things in medicine have changed a whole lot, and...

Mims: New, kind of like, super drugs that we have...

James Tidler: Well, yea, the drugs of course, and...and then, like I say, the main thing in cardiology is the invasive procedures and...which have helped a lot taking care of folks.

Mims: Were pacemakers something you worked with at all?

James Tidler: No, I didn't...well, I did, but I...I didn't put in pacemakers.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: I didn't do that, but I did have patients that had pacemakers done.

Mims: Um hum. Cause I understand the managements of those has changed significantly.

James Tidler: Oh yea, that...that has changed a lot, that's correct. But I don't know, you know, mostly back then what I did was office practice and then if patients were sick enough to go to the hospital, put 'em in the hospital, and I'd treat them in the hospital.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: ...follow them along. If I was lucky enough to have an intern working with me at the time, why they helped me make rounds and did some of the legwork that saved me from going. But...and then we kept patients in the hospital quite a while, you know, depending on the illness. For instance, if you had a heart attack, back in the old days, you'd keep 'em in bed for three weeks.

Mims: Hum.

James Tidler: You the hospital, in the the bed. But nowadays...nowadays, you have a heart attack and you get cath...ah...cath done and angioplasty, or...or bypass surgery, or something like that, and you're home in...maybe the same day or the next day, or if you have surgery, three or four days.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: that's...that's a big change.

Mims: Yea.

James Tidler: Ah...and plus the fact that with the advent of the government controlled medicine, Medicare and all this sort of thing, you know, you just can't keep a patient in the hospital. Also, if you want to regulate a diabetic, you put 'em in the hospital a week and...and work with 'em, and fix their diet, and...and adjust their dosage of medication whether it be insulin or some oral medication, usually insulin...but you can't do that at all anymore. Everything's done outpatient.

Mims: Hum.

James Tidler: And if you have a difficult diagnostic problem that you need this test and that test, and you know, like an MRI or a cat scan, or certain laboratory procedures, back in the old days, you'd get 'em in the hospital and you'd do it all within a few days the hospital and get one consult in after another to see them...nowadays you have to do it all as an outpatient and it has to be scheduled and it takes time...forever...

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: get everything completed and put together. It's like I told my personal physician not long ago when I went to him, I said, "tell you what I need is a quarterback". Cause I go to all these different doctors, I've had all sorts of things myself, I've had bypass surgery, and I've had prostate cancer and treatment for that, and...and my carotid reamed out, and...and so I go to a cardiologist, and an internist, and a surgeon, and I have all this stuff done and nobody coordinates the...the situation.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: You know, you''re...everybody has their own little niche and that's the way it works.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: But...

Mims: mentioned something a little bit ago about nuclear medicine...the...the scans.

James Tidler: Yea?

Mims: Did...was that something that...that came about with the building of James...of New Hanover? Was it a James Walker?

James Tidler: No, it didn't come about with the building of it. I don't think we had anything like that at James Walker.

Mims: Um hum. So it came later?

James Tidler: scans and other nuclear procedures, we didn't do over there, I'm pretty sure.

Mims: Okay.

James Tidler: Cause we moved in, what, '66?

Mims: '67. The hospital...

James Tidler: '67, yea, '67.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: Yea, so...

Mims: So it came...

James Tidler: That was just the year after that.

Mims: Right. So it it came later than that, like maybe in the seventies or something?

James Tidler: Yea, mostly after that, yea.

Mims: Hum.

Mims: Well, um...I...I did forget to ask you something regards to the school of nursing, um...Will Newton said that coached their basketball team.

James Tidler: That's correct. Actually, Dr. VanVelsor and I together did.

Mims: How did that come about?

James Tidler: I don't know. We were both interested in basketball and the nurses had a team and they needed somebody to help them and we enjoyed doing it, really. And so, yea, we did that for I guess three or four years, maybe more than that.

Parnell: Who did they play against?

James Tidler: Ah...hum. I guess other hospitals.

Parnell: Hospitals?

James Tidler: Ah...hum, that's a good question!

Parnell: Did ya'll travel to games, or...?

James Tidler: No, we actually...actually we didn't travel any, so...

Mims: Well, my question is, is where did you practice?

James Tidler: Where?

Mims: Yea. Did the...the hospital didn't have a gym or anything did they?

James Tidler: Oh, you're talking about the...the basketball?

Mims: Yea.

James Tidler: Um...where did we do it?

Mims: We know that...

James Tidler: No, the hospital didn't have one, that's true.

Mims: We know that the nurses took...

James Tidler: I don't know whether it was the Y...ah...the YMCA, or YWCA, or YMCA I guess, or the...or, or New Hanover High School.

Mims: That's what I was wondering, because...

James Tidler: was probably New Hanover High School. I swear I don't really remember.

Mims: Princess Street gym at New Hanover, or...cause also Isaac Bear had a gymnasium.

James Tidler: No, we didn't go there.

Mims: You didn't go there?

James Tidler: No. Hum.

Mims: Cause...

James Tidler: I...I frankly don't remember.

Mims: ...there's another picture of...of them, and their on a gym floor, so I know they were in some gym somewhere, so they were called the Cardinals...

James Tidler: I...I think its probably the high school. Remember, you know, there was only one high school then, too.

Mims: That's...yea...other than Williston.

James Tidler: Other than Williston, I...I'm pretty sure it was New Hanover.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: Well I think its interesting that the girls were allowed to do these kind of things.

James Tidler: The question of what teams we played, that's a...that's...that's an excellent question. I swannee I can't think of...

Mims: Well they must have had some...

James Tidler: Dr. VanVelsor maybe can remember that.

Mims: Okay, well, I'm going to put him on my list of people to contact.

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: Because we haven't be able to find out too much about the girls social life. And then, somebody mentioned about this basketball team and we saw the picture in one of these actually called the Cardinals in reference to the team.

James Tidler: Yea, okay.

Mims: And we didn't know how they came up with the team now, or...

James Tidler: Yea...I don't know that either.

Mims: Or...or anything about 'em.

James Tidler: I...I really don't remember that.

Mims: It was fun!

James Tidler: I don't remember that. Alzheimer's prevents me from remembering that.

Mims: But you had an incredible situation. Here you are, you know, teaching and working and now you're gonna coach basketball...! I'm sure your wife...

James Tidler: Well, I did a lot of other things too, you know, know, belonged to the Civic Club and we had a bowling league and I did that one night a week and back in those days you were doing something every...every day and night, you know.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And...and on call twenty four hours a day. We did kind of join up with several others, like Dr. Warshauer and Dr. Pigford, and I took...alternated taking night calls...well, probably just weekends.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: Not...not during the week. And then, later on we did take night calls for each other.

Mims: Cause when you're by yourself...

James Tidler: Yea...we were all solo practice. We weren't in any group. And I...I resisted getting in any group. I didn't care for that.

Mims: But "on call" would be a big factor in giving you a little bit of free time.

James Tidler: Yea, that's right. If you had somebody taking calls it did give you a little...little time.

Mims: And also we're talking the days before cell phones pagers...

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: So, "on call" meant you had to be...

James Tidler: Had to be near a telephone, that's right.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: That's correct.

Mims: Hum. Cause that...that certainly has...has changed a lot.

James Tidler: How did you get in? (dog barking)

Mims: Come here puppy, come here.

James Tidler: You were out in the yard!

Mims: Is this the sister?

James Tidler: Yea, this is the...the new puppy. She's...

Mims: Come here!

James Tidler: She's a pain.

Mims: Come here! You're not as friendly as Trevor, are you?

James Tidler: No.

Mims:'s okay, it's alright. Say, I'm just a little girl...I'm just a little girl...poor thing! Well, um...we're you going to say something?

Parnell: When you, um, came to town, you were in Dr. Dosher's office building on North Eleventh. Did you stay there very long, or did you move?

James Tidler: Ah...I did move. I moved...I guess I moved only once. I moved to the Crouch building.

Parnell: Dr. Crouch?

James Tidler: Dr...the two Dr. Crouches...brothers.

Mims: Yea.

James Tidler: They built a building...

Mims: It's okay.

James Tidler: Let me get her out.

Mims: She's okay, she's just...

James Tidler: She's gonna bark.

Mims: Now she's good.

James Tidler: And I wasn't initially in that building, but they had some extra offices and Dr. Horace Moore was in one of them and upstairs Dr. Lounsbury and Nicholson, OB-GYN, were there. Dr. Horace Moore was a surgeon...and Dr. Moore then after a while, joined Dr. Williams and his practice and he left that office and I got that office.

Mims: Where...where was that located?

James Tidler: That was on Grace Street, Tenth and Grace.

Mims: So that was still over by James Walker?

James Tidler: That was over by the hospital, that's right.

Mims: Now building the new hospital...

James Tidler: And so I stayed there until I built my own office...

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: Which was on South Sixteenth Street after they developed the roads for the new hospital.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: I bought a lot there and several of us bought a lot together...and I built an office. Dr. Pigford and I built one side by side.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And in Dr. Pigford's old office is now his son-in-law, Dr. Hutchins, Robert Hutchins.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: My office, I...I leased it to the hospital after I retired, or first a laboratory, and then the hospital, and then the hospital gave it up and I'm now leasing it to the foot doctors...Young...Dr... (dog barking)

Mims: Come here!

James Tidler: Trevor, we gotta get out...I mean. Okay, so I...I...really I don't think my memory is gonna let you...

Mims: Well you''re...

James Tidler: ...get much more information.

Mims: You''re really filling us in on a lot of...of changes that came about because when the hospital moved that meant that the doctor's offices now had to relocate and you mentioned once they put the road in. Do you remember that site before the road was there?

James Tidler: It was just woodlands.

Mims: Just woods.

James Tidler: Yea. Anyhow we...we bought some property there and I built an office and I moved into it in...on Labor Day 1966 before the...before the hospital opened in what about May 67.

Mims: Right, um hum.

James Tidler: So we were there six months before the hospital opened.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: But we were ready for 'em.

Mims: Other people talk about that move to the new hospital, about how...

James Tidler: That...that was quite an endeavor, you know. I think we even had moving vans with stretchers and maybe beds on 'em.

Mims: Uh huh.

James Tidler: And some of the wheelchairs and all that sort of thing.

Mims: It was almost like a parade, wasn't it?

James Tidler: Yea, it was, it was. But it was, of course, all accomplished in one day, and...

Mims: I think it was breakfast at James Walker and lunch at New Hanover.

James Tidler: Yea, that's right.

Mims: Except for a couple of people in traction, or something, so...but's an could we do that today? We couldn't, could we?

James Tidler: Oh yea, I think we could do it!

Mims: I don't know, I have my doubts about it. I mean with the growth of New Hanover Hospital, seems like that's so much larger than James Walker ever was, of course...

James Tidler: Oh yes.

Mims: ...physically, but it's also got a strength in pulling people to the area. We were talking about the increased number of doctors...

James Tidler: Yea...yea.

Mims: it for the...the facility...I mean...with the Zimmer Cancer Center, and all the other...?

James Tidler: Well, of course that's...that's more...

Mims: All new.

James Tidler: ...very recent, yea.

Mims: ...very new, yea.

James Tidler: Ah, you know, you're talking about how much bigger New Hanover was than James Walker...I'm not sure...what was the bed capacity of James Walker, do you remember? When...when it closed? Do you have that information?

Parnell: I don't think I've ever seen...

James Tidler: You know, when we moved to New Hanover, I don't think we had any more patients than we had in James Walker.

Mims: Right cause it took 'em...later...

James Tidler: Actually we...we did, cause we had the Williston...

Mims: Oh, the Community Hospital.

James Tidler: I mean the...yea, the Community Hospital patients, yea, I said Williston.

Mims: Right. So that filled it up.

James Tidler: So...but that...there weren't many...

Mims: No.

James Tidler: ...maybe twenty from there, you know.

Mims: Right.

James Tidler: And so, I would guess maybe a couple hundred from James Walker, if that many. And so we had...I think we started out at New Hanover with a 400 bed capacity, isn't that correct?

Mims: I think so, cause they didn't have the full ten floors. It was just seven.

James Tidler: Yea, we just had seven floors, that's right, yea.

Mims: And the way that it was designed was to allow those extra three floors. That was built into the original plan, so I mean, that...that whole architectural thing is interesting.

James Tidler: Well...yea.

Mims: But do you know...currently...the current state of the hospital, seems like it's put Wilmington kind of on the medical map as having a large facility. But then you look at what's happening in the Research Triangle area and they have all those huge hospitals area, I mean, we'll never be able to get up to that speed.

James Tidler: No. That's true. And the, you know, look at...Brunswick Hospital and Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach is big time.

Mims: Yea.

James Tidler: They do heart surgery and everything down there.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: So, the surrounding hospitals are expanding. And Dosher has expanded in Southport. At least they're advertising like they're really big time. And I think they are. So...

Mims: Do you, ah, do anything with the hospital today? Are you on any boards, or...?

James Tidler: No, I'm not any more.

Mims: Not anymore.

James Tidler: Most recent thing I did, I was still reading electrocardiograms. That's even after I retired, for a, well until really about two years ago?

Parnell: When did you officially retire?

James Tidler: In 1992.

Parnell: 92, okay.

Mims: That's a long time.

James Tidler: So, it's been a long time.

Parnell: And you just read until the last couple of years.

James Tidler: Yea that's all I did was read cardiograms and they...they were good enough to let me stay on this staff to do that and...

Mims: Well how does one go about closing their practice? We've talked about opening. How is the process of closing?

James Tidler: Ah, you're supposed to put ads in the paper stating you're doing it and that you're...the records are available at a certain address or phone number or whatever...maybe the old office, same old office. Ah, I also, and I don't know how many people do this, I also sent all of my patients, active patients, letters.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: Informing them of it. And...

Mims: Do you...?

James Tidler:, but actually, by the time I retired, I had dwindled down my practice considerably. For the last five years I only worked half a day. And I really wasn't encouraging any new patients or anything like that. Most of my patients were old and they died off and...

Mims: Did you refer them to any other doctor?

James Tidler: Yea, when I...when I retired, Dr. Hutchins who I mentioned was next door, taking Dr. Pigford's office, and his practice, I referred some to him, although he couldn't take them all. And so I kind of gave him the pick of the crop and...because I'd had a close relationship with him and the others sort of went where they could find someone to take them. And then we'd send the records to them or let them pick the records up and take it to the new doctor. But even so I ended up with a lot of records that were never transferred. And you know after ten...ten years I got rid of all of them.

Mims: Sure.

James Tidler: And even since then on two or three occasions, not many, I've had people call and want to know where their records were. (laughing) I'm sorry, I...I think that ten years was an adequate length of time to keep them and I did and I've had 'em all incinerated. And so they're...they're not available.

Mims: Did you have an office staff, of course, a secretary and...

James Tidler: Oh yea, I had...actually the most I ever had working for me at one time were three people.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And when I finally quit, I only had one. And I had three, and then two, and then one.

Mims: Um hum.

James Tidler: And the one...the last one I had is Tammy Whitman, and she is the...she works for the lab. What's the name of it? There on...

Mims: The big LabCorp?

James Tidler: LabCorp, yea. She works for LabCorp. She's their head blood drawer...what's the word?


Parnell: Phlebotomist.

James Tidler: Phlebotomist, yea. When you get old, you can't remember names very well. Sometimes I can't remember my own name.

Mims: Well you've done very well today. You've certainly given us a lot of information that we have not come across before.

James Tidler: Yea.

Mims: Is there anything else you want to do, or...?

Parnell: We're about out of time.

Mims: I think we're about...

James Tidler: Yea, well, I don't think I know anything else!

Mims: Well I think this has been a...just great.'s been very, very helpful for what we're...

James Tidler: The other...other board certified internist that was here, I remember is E. G. Goodman.

Mims: Goodman! That was the name you couldn't think of.

James Tidler: That was the name I couldn't think of.

Mims: Well I...

James Tidler: And he kind of specialized in allergy, but...but he was basically an internist.

Mims: And now that you've been a patient with some of these specialties, you know...

James Tidler: Oh gosh, I've been a patient! Yea.

Mims: I've heard doctors don't make good patients.

James Tidler: I've said I've had everything except a baby!

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