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Dr. C.L. Bland grew up in Hardin County but decided to start his practice in Grayson County because he knew the county would be starting its own hospital.
Born in 1918, Bland served in World War II, with basic training at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.
“I looked for all the support I could get,” he said about medical training in the Army.
When Bland started his practice in Grayson County, he was the youngest doctor around and the first new doctor the county had in 35 years. Some of the doctors in the county at the time were Dr. Phelps, Dr. Osboure and Dr. Sherman in Millwood.
In 1948 when the hospital was built, delivering babies was still done mostly at home.
“At first a lot of women wanted home deliveries,” he said. “They were reluctant to come to the hospital. Cost was the main reason.”
Bland encouraged women to deliver at the hospital but he delivered babies for two or three more years at homes. He kept a Jeep for travel across the county.
“I never did get hung up,” Bland said. Then the roads were mostly gravel, although U.S. 62 was paved throughout the county.
Home deliveries were usually okay if everything went fine. One woman had two or three children when Bland delivered her of another. The only question she had for the doctor was could she plow the field with a mule the next day.
Bland said another doctor was visiting the area to decide if he wanted to work in Grayson County. It just happened that one night he was here, five women went into labor at their homes. Bland and the other doctor started out and delivered three of the babies. The other two babies arrived without their help.
“He decided not to come here,” Bland said of the other doctor.
Bland’s first office was on Walnut Street. Then he built an office on West Market next to the old Sisk Drug Store (currently God’s Way Church). The office was state-of-the-art at the time with an x-ray machine and laboratory. Patient records were kept on index cards and Bland had a bookkeeper and a dictation machine in which he spoke and someone else would write his diagnosis into the patients’ charts.
Patients registered at the front window and he tried to see them in the order in which they arrived. In the winter, many of the patients had respiratory troubles and the summer brought on gastrointestinal issue due to lack of refrigeration.
Today common medical issues include diabetes and gall bladder issues.
When Bland retired in 1984, Dr. Bob McClure took over his office and practice. Bland practiced medicine in Grayson County for 66 years. His medical building has since been converted into apartments.
In the medical world of Grayson County, getting a surgeon to stay in the community and be available all the time was a challenge. Bland helped recruit Dr. Ralph Thomas in the 1970s. Covering the emergency room was a challenge for the local doctors.
“We covered (it) a week at a time and there was not much rest that week,” he said.
Bland was around for the addition to the War Memorial Hospital and the construction of the new hospital.
“Every time we built on, we thought we had all the room we would need,” he said with a smile. He explained hospitals are slaves of supply and demand as well as any business, “If you can supply (medical help) then you grow.”
Bland’s children, David, Charles and Jeffery, all decided against a career in medicine. They had watched their father get up at all hours of the night to help others and didn’t want any part of those hours.
Bland remembers going to the hospital for his shift at 7 a.m. one Saturday morning and leaving at midnight. It was a busy weekend, he said, with wrecks and fights. He served the community through natural disasters, including several tornadoes, but said the worst disasters were automobile wrecks.