A Long Island Doctor’s House Calls


This week’s guest post is about my father-in-law who was one of the last Doctors to make house calls on Long Island:  Dr. George Nemecek. It was written by his Ph.D. son, Dr. Russell Nemecek, my husband.  The letter was in response to an article in the WSJ.

“Bob Green’s, “A Country Doctor Can’t Forget His 40 Years of House Calls” brought back memories of my father’s tenure as a general practitioner which spanned the same time frame as that of Dr. Kemper.  We lived in suburban Nassau County, but the only obvious difference in the medical service Dr. Kemper provided was my father didn’t have to travel quite as far to see his patients.  While it might shock the younger generation, these personal relationships with patients and  “door-to-door” service of house calls at literally any hour or time of day, were  very much what medicine was and how it was delivered in most areas of the country through the 1940s and into at least the early 1960s.

I fondly recall riding along and waiting in the car while my father made house calls. Over time, he phased them out except for a few of his elderly, longtime patients that could no longer come to his office which incidentally was attached to our home. There were no appointments for office hours: first come and first served. Yes, it sometimes meant long waits, but patients had as much time as they needed and his evening hours frequently didn’t end until 9 or 10 at night and even later when he came home for a few days while the rest of the family was away on vacation.

There were no stop watches checking on how many patients could be seen in some set period of time and somehow all of this worked in an era when few people had any kind of medical insurance. Over the years I have often laughed to myself thinking of how my Dad would react to an insurance company questioning a prescription or an ordered procedure.

His so-called day off (Thursday) did not mean the phone wouldn’t ring and on Sundays he visited patients in area nursing homes because that was the only day he had time to do so. Like Dr. Kemper, my father would cringe at the term, “health-care provider”. Being a physician was not an occupation, but simply a way of life to him and those of his generation.

Dr. Kemper recalled the rewards of seeing and hearing from former patients over the years. My father experienced some of that, but he died too young to fully hear multiple generations of thanks. It was left to my mother to hear the countless stories of appreciation over the nearly three decades until her passing away in 2008.

There is no questioning the benefits of today’s medical advancements and technology as medicine has become far more of a science than the art it was in so many ways decades ago.   However, in many ways this has come with a cost and not just a financial one.  Nevertheless, thank you for the memories, Dr. Kemper, and for your years of service to the medical profession and your patients.”

by Russell J. Nemecek, Ph.D. (guest post author)

E & R - pinning ceremony photo 2014

Note: Photos are of Dr. George Nemecek as a young man wearing academic medals awarded him in school.  In the wedding photo is Dr. George and his wife Frances.  The other photo would have been shortly after medical school  and in later years in his office.

The flower photo is courtesy of my talented niece, Sally Rose Dolak, who lives in Costa Rica and who blogs daily photos. Her link is:  http://rosedevi.blogspot.com/



This entry was posted in Bob Green, Dr. Kemper, house calls, Medical Doctor, office hours, WSJ article and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to A Long Island Doctor’s House Calls

  1. Hello, seems now i am “just in time”. LOL
    A really wonderful story, a view back to better times, if we look at the changes in healthcare. Also here in this very rural region house call’s are the exception.
    Best greetings and wishes to your husband too. Have a great weekend. Michael 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the lovely reblog of my post today. In some rural US places, house calls are making a comeback which is good for medicine. Most times, I have to drive to the city, park in the parking garage and pay for it. The original article was in the Wall St. Journal to which my husband wrote a letter in response. I thought it necessary to include his family in my blog even though his parents and sister and now deceased. It was another era and simply part of the job of being a doctor. Today is very different. Thanks for the greetings and well wishes for our weekend. I will pass them on. You as well in Bavaria, enjoy your weekend and enjoy different activities. Mary Ann 🙂


  2. We rarely visited doctors when I was growing up, but I do remember doctors making house calls and I was always impressed with the compassionate care we received when visiting the doctor in the 1950s and 60s. In fact, I believe a visit only cost about $3 to $5 back then. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    Your dad and physician making house calls has my highest respect. Too bad we live an era when this kind of noble profession has been replaced by the assembly line approach to medical assistance. Thank you for sharing your fond memories of your dad with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’ll let my husband know. This was my father-in-law or my husband’s Dad. I agree with you on medicine today. Give me the good old days anytime! Much appreciated. Enjoy the weekend.


  4. John’s dad made house calls in Brooklyn until the early 60s. John often went with him on Sunday evenings. He would sit in the car, then they ended up going to a train yard to watch trains before going home. When Dr. Mehrling moved his practice to Port Jefferson, he no longer made house calls.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting article. I have never had a doctor come to my home so this was fun to read. There’s something to be said for keeping sick people apart, not in a doctor’s office, isn’t there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • House calls are making a comeback I think. In certain areas. I know we had one visit us when I was a Fulbright teacher in Germany. And you are correct and waiting rooms at doctor’s offices. Our pediatrician had “sick” and an “well-checkup” waiting areas.


  6. Emily says:

    I loved reading this wonderful post! It speaks so much truth and one can really see how times have changed. What a wonderful doctor 🙂 thank you for writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. bernard25 says:

    Bonjour mon Ami ou Amie MARYANNE

    Je suis le messager de l’amitié

    Je viens te déposer une petite pensée avec une petite note de gaîté

    pour agrémenter tes journées ou tes soirées

    J’ai demander au ciel d’éclairer ta demeure et ton cœur

    Avec toi je partage de grands moments de bonheur

    Parfois mes peines

    Entre nous c’est du partage , de l’écriture

    Passe en ce jour une excellente fin de journée ou soirée

    Que celle ci te soit merveilleuse

    Avec de jolis moments de tendresse, générosité , amour dans ta demeure

    Sur cette dernière touche

    A toute , bisou , Bernard

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonjour cher Bernard, c’est si bon d’avoir de vos nouvelles une fois de plus.

      Les bloggeurs écrivent des articles intéressants pour le plaisir de la lecture.

      J’espère que vous avez passé un beau dimanche en France et que vous passerez une bonne semaine.

      J’attends vos commentaires sur mon blog avec impatience.

      J’espère que tout va bien et que votre semaine est heureuse.

      Cordialement à vous,

      Mary Ann 🙂


  8. balroop2013 says:

    I enjoyed reading about the dedication of doctors in the bygone era when this profession was truly a noble one! Ah! the good old days when people had leisure to wait for their turn and the doctors didn’t just think of filling their coffers! While we take pride in the advancement of health care, values have been thrown out of the window.
    Thank you for sharing this Mary Ann. I am impressed that your husband takes interest in your blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This comment made my day, Balroop. It is indeed nice that my husband takes interest in my blog. When he retires, I hope he tries his hand at blogging. The good old days were just that: good. You are correct in that it is rush, rush, rush and see how many patients can be seen in one hour. I take all questions in typed from the computer and insist on getting answers too when I go to the doctor. They may not like it, but someone has to teach them about humanity and caring again. Core values are key. You hit the nail on the head too. It is gratifying to know that there are still physicians today who will do house calls. Your comment was very much appreciated. Have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Annika Perry says:

    Fascinating guest post, Mary Ann! This recalls the time when being a GP was a calling! Their dedication was incredible and they had a real longing to help. Even when my son was ill just ten years ago the doctor still made house calls but they’ve been phased out for the most. It’s a vicious circle being a GP nowadays caught between rules and regulations and funding issues … not surprisingly many leave the profession.

    Liked by 1 person

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