Snowshoe and Lancet
Memoirs of a Frontier Newfoundland Doctor 1937-1948
by Robert Skidmore Ecke, M.D.
Two years out of Johns Hopkins Medical School, Robert Ecke found himself at Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital on the island of Twillingate, Newfoundland. Practicing a form of frontier medicine, the young doctor was soon treating everything from emergency appendectomies to pregnancies. By boat, dog sled, and snow shoes, he traveled to treat people unable or unwilling to come to the hospital.
Much of the book is taken from excerpts in Dr. Ecke's journals: "I've been doing a lot of operating; boldly slashing a lip to take out a cancer when it would have terrified me only shortly since. I believe I am beginning to get a feeling for surgery and will try almost anything." Later aboard ship, "It was dreadful working down in the saloon with patients sliding from side to side [on a table]. I had to go ashore every once in a while to get my stomach back."
With humor and compassion, he describes how he cared for the poverty stricken fishing families, some of who paid only 40 cents per year per person for medical coverage.
Robert Skidmore Ecke graduated from Bowdoin and in 1935 from Johns Hopkins Medical School. His years in Newfoundland were interrupted by World War II when he served in North Africa and with the partisans in Yugoslavia. He conducted medical research, had a private medical practice, and served in the Central Intelligence Agency. He lives overlooking the Piscataqua River in Eliot, Maine, and still visits Newfoundland.
Nonfiction. 240 pp. 25 black and white photographs.
6x9 Cloth. 0-914339-85-0 $24.95
Also about Newfoundland: The North Bay Narrative, One Hundred Years of a Newfoundland Outport Village
Web site: Twillingate Museum