Daily News of Newburyport
AJH doctor honored by colleagues
Mindess recognized for decades of service to hospital
By Liz Carey
NEWBURYPORT — Dr. Richard Mindess may not be a practicing physician any longer, but his peers value him so much that they created a new honor for him.
The Anna Jaques medical staff voted Mindess as the first ever Honorary Member of the Medical Staff for his decades of work and accomplishments to the hospital and the community.
“Rick was an extremely distinguished physician -- one of the very finest sports physicians in the community,” said Mark Goldstein, president and CEO of Anna Jaques Hospital. “Over the years, he’s helped so many people and been such a big part of the community here at Anna Jaques.”
Mindess, an orthopedic surgeon, practiced at Seacoast Orthopedics and Anna Jaques Hospital from 1983 to 2007 and was former chief of surgery at the hospital.
Mindess, 60, hasn’t practiced since being diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2012.
Because his illness prevents Mindess from being able to practice medicine, the department of surgery nominated him for the honor so he could be part of the Anna Jaques family in an honorary way and stay connected with the medical community.
“I was very deeply moved,” Mindess said of the honor.
Dr. Daryl Colden, the Chief of the Department of Surgery, calls Mindess a mentor to him and numerous others.
“This is just a small token of the hospital and physicians recognizing him for all his years of service,” Colden said. “He has been an integral part of our medical community for 25 years -- he was loved by patients, nurses, everybody. I never saw him unhappy--he always had enthusiasm and always seemed to enjoy work, no matter how hard it was.”
Mindess, who was an athlete and avid golfer in his younger days, built the sports medicine program at the hospital in the 80s, Goldstein said.
Throughout his career, Mindess took on leadership roles; he was past chief executive officer and medical director of the Lower Merrimack Valley Physician Hospital Organization and the Whittier Independent Practice Association (IPA) in Newburyport and past president and chief executive officer of Wellport, a subsidiary of the Whittier IPA. He was also a member of several medical associations and the hospital’s finance committee, and served as a team doctor for local high school sports teams.
“To me, he typifies the sort of the Renaissance doctor, in the sense that he was technically gifted, he performed consistently great surgery, he was very much connected with people, and he had all these leadership roles,” Colden said. “He was, in a sense, the complete doctor.”
In the early 2000s, Mindess was instrumental in bringing electronic medical records to Greater Newburyport.
“That was kind of exciting because put it Newburyport on the map and gave doctors a bit of a leg up to some of challenges to electronic health records,” Mindess said.
Goldstein calls Mindess a “pioneer” and a “wild thinker” who always thought big.
“Rick is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met in my life,” Goldstein said. “Whether taking care of patients, or trying to create a new system for healthcare, or leading the Whittier IPA, whatever Rick did, he put 100 percent in, always for the benefit of the community.”
After Mindess was diagnosed with leukemia, the Newburyport medical community organized a bone marrow drive in April 2012. Despite an intensive course of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, Mindess is still battling the illness.
“If circumstances had been a little different, I’d still be coming to work,” Mindess said. “But life throws you a curveball, and now I have a different set of challenges.”
Mindess is no stranger to challenges – he didn’t take the typical route to the medical field, applying to a six-year medical program and being admitted to Boston University School of Medicine right from high school. He said he “accidentally fell into orthopedics,” and after his residency, the Ashland, Mass. resident accepted a job in Newburyport, which he said was one of the best decisions he ever made.
“I really loved my job,” Mindess said. “I love the challenges of it, I love the people involved in it. I look back incredibly fondly on all the aspects of my job -- the people I worked with at Seacoast Orthopedics, Whittier IPA, and the various places around the hospital. I was truly blessed.”
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