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Dr. Potter retires after 36-year career in Monadnock community

  • Dr. James Potter of Jaffrey retired from multiple positions in the community as both a family doctor and medical director for local nursing homes and hospice care, leaving a 36-year legacy in the Monadnock region, and was thanked by patients and co-workers during a retirement party thrown by Jaffrey Family Medicine on Friday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Dr. James Potter of Jaffrey retired from multiple positions in the community as both a family doctor and medical director for local nursing homes and hospice care, leaving a 36-year legacy in the Monadnock region, and was thanked by patients and co-workers during a retirement party thrown by Jaffrey Family Medicine on Friday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Dr. James Potter of Jaffrey retired from multiple positions in the community as both a family doctor and medical director for local nursing homes and hospice care, leaving a 36-year legacy in the Monadnock region, and was thanked by patients and co-workers during a retirement party thrown by Jaffrey Family Medicine on Friday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, July 02, 2018 10:54AM

When Dr. James Potter finished his medical residency in 1982, he knew that he wanted to work in a small community as a family doctor, and build the kind of relationships he’d seen working under a family practitioner during his training.

That year, he found Peterborough, and the Monadnock region continued to be his home and the location of his practice for the next 36 years. This week, he officially retired from the several roles he’s held in the community – both as a doctor at Jaffrey Family Medicine and as the medical director at Good Shepherd Nursing Home, RiverMead Life Care Community and medical director for hospice care.

The communities he served said good-bye to him this week, at several retirement celebrations where patients and co-workers wrote their thank yous on golf balls and cards shaped like golf flags, reflecting one of the hobbies he’ll have more time for in his retirement.

“It’s an incredibly rewarding career to look back on,” said Potter in an interview in his home on Saturday, during his last day of work in any of his roles. “It’s emotionally overwhelming.”

As a family doctor, said Potter, he needs to be “completely present in the room” with the patient before him – meaning he can’t dwell on the patients that come before or will come after. “For them, they have to have the feeling that they’re the only patient I have.”

Potter started with his own office in Peterborough office in 1982, where he did, “A little bit of everything, as you do as a family doctor,” he said.

He cared for patients from birth to geriatrics. After four years he was offered a position as the medical director of Beech Hill Hospital, an addiction recovery center in Dublin, where he worked for 10 years, gaining additional training in addiction recovery.

As it became harder to convince insurance companies to cover treatment, however, Potter said his job moved from being involved with the interdisciplinary teams in patient recovery to being more of an administrator, on the phone.

“It just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing,” he said.

Potter went back to family medicine, though, he said. As he’s aged, his population has aged with him, and though he was still a family doctor up until his retirement, he’s been focused more and more on geriatric medicine, and filling the role of medical director at some of the area’s nursing homes.

“It’s a population many folks ignore, but they did a lot of wonderful things in their lives, had major contributions to society, and they often have important things to say. Many have intact long-term memories, even if their short-term memory isn’t so great. They love talking about their life experiences.”

Potter said he knows that the elderly population is vulnerable to abuses, and wanted to assure that they were receiving good care, with as much choice in their own lives as they could be given.

“There are so many little things you can do to make their lives better,” said Potter. “Having anyone come by and talk to them, even for a short while, brightens their day tremendously.”

Potter said that he and his wife will remain in the Monadnock area in their current Jaffrey home, and he’ll spend his retirement giving extra time to his existing hobbies, including golfing and woodworking, with a goal of joining the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, and doing some traveling.

“I look back on my career and have nothing but good feelings about it,” Potter said. “I will miss the folks I worked with and miss my role in the lives of my patients, though I’m sure I will still see many of them. That’s one of the joys of working in a small town. I will still see them, just in a different capacity now.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.