Dr. Rosemary Weir has spent 38 years caring for patients in Seymour.
In that time, she has delivered close to 1,500 babies and treated multiple generations of families.
But she said the pressures from increased demands and government regulations of running a small-town family medical practice have taken away from what she loves most.
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“It takes time away from direct patient care,” she said.
Weir, 68, has decided to close her practice, Legacy Primary Care Physicians at 120 St. Louis Ave. in downtown Seymour. The last day for her office to be open will be Sept. 30.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, Weir said, but one she felt was right for both personal and professional reasons. She said she has been contemplating what she wanted to do for more than a year.
“Several doctors, myself included, have been concerned about the new regulations that have come as part of Obamacare,” she said. “It’s creating more paperwork and documentation and taking more time, but that time is not spent sitting down with patients.”
Starting Oct. 1, the government is changing how doctors code diagnoses, going from around 16,000 codes to 64,000 codes, she added.
“In primary care, you have to deal with a lot of different areas, and it just seems almost daunting, overwhelming for that,” she said. “That was kind of what made the decision for me.”
Weir is adamant she is not retiring, however, and said she plans to continue to work in the medical field in some capacity. She’s just not sure what that capacity will be.
“The future may hold an opportunity for volunteer work and perhaps even some form of part-time practice,” she said.
She said she’s even looking into the legalities of providing home visits to patients.
But closing the practice also will allow her to spend more time with her three adult children and three grandchildren and to travel.
Weir graduated in 1972 from the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis and completed her residency at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie a year later. She and her husband, Dr. George Weir, a longtime pathologist at Schneck Medical Center, moved to Seymour in April 1977.
There were several factors that led her to choose a medical career.
“I was good in science in school, and it didn’t bother me to take science courses,” she said.
On a more personal note, Weir said, she was most influenced by having to take care of her mother while in high school.
“My mom had been sick on a number of occasions, and helping her deal with it and taking her to the doctor made me think I wanted to do something in that area,” she said.
While in college, she considered going into teaching to become a professor in zoology. She’s glad that one of her professors talked her into going into medicine instead. But it wasn’t a common career field for women at that time, she added.
“In my class of like 250 people, there were only 10 women,” she said. “Nowadays, it’s essentially 50 percent. Women are involved in all aspects of medicine.”
Upon arriving in Seymour, Weir joined the practice of Dr. Harry Baxter and Dr. Mark Bevers, who is now deceased. She learned much from both, she said, and went on to take over the practice.
“Having lived in the big city, we were really glad to come here and raise our children. We thought it was a great place then, and we intend to stay now,” Weir said. “We’ve never had any regrets and have been well-received here. I can’t imagine a better place.”
When the Community Health Center of Jackson County, a member of Indiana Health Centers, was established downtown, Weir and Dr. Kenneth Bobb became its first doctors.
“In order to receive a grant to operate the health center, they had to have someone do OB and someone to do regular medicine,” she said. “So we were the first two doctors there until it got started and on its feet.”
She provided obstetrics services and later on saw regular patients, too, at the health clinic for several years.
Looking back on her 38 years of practice, she said, one of her favorite aspects of her career has been delivering babies.
“The starting of a new life and being a part of that, it’s exciting,” she said. “Although, sometimes it can be a little frightening, too, because emergencies can happen so quickly.
“But I think seeing new life and then helping the mom get through the challenges of not knowing what to do, especially with a first baby, and guide them through, that was my favorite part,” she added.
Getting up in the middle of the night for deliveries, however, became too much to handle later on, so she stopped delivering babies more than seven years ago, she said.
Early on, she contemplated specializing in pediatrics because she loved children so much, she said. But she quickly changed her mind after doing a rotation at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
“I realized seriously ill babies or children, I just couldn’t take care of,” she said. “I had a patient with leukemia, and we had to keep drawing blood, and I realized I couldn’t do it.”
That’s when a professor suggested she look into primary care, where she would still get to treat young patients but could focus more on keeping them healthy instead of just dealing with their illness.
Among the many doctors, nurses and staff members she has worked with, Weir said, she especially respected and enjoyed working with Holly Berry, her current nurse practitioner; Dr. Douglas Towriss, who now works at Schneck Medical Center; and Jane Meyer, her longtime nurse practitioner, who died of cancer.
Meyer’s daughter, Megan Blomenberg, said her mother and Weir were good friends, not just co-workers, and that Meyer respected Weir’s dedication to her job and her patients.
“Dr. Weir is a very kind, caring, compassionate, thoughtful Christian woman,” Blomenberg said. “She would be willing to help with anything. She is great and will be truly missed.”
In closing her practice, Weir said, she will most miss the people she encounters, patients, staff, other doctors and hospital personnel.
“You get a lot of contact with other people, but especially your patients, because you see them many times and on a more frequent basis as they get older,” she said. “I feel as if they are my friends or part of my family.”
In one case, she has been able to take care of five generations of the same family.
“When I first came here, I started taking care of a lady who now has great-great grandkids, if you can believe that,” Weir said. “It’s kind of neat because you see the whole picture of a family. It gives you a good idea of family dynamics when you see patients over and over again versus in the emergency room, where you don’t get to see what happens after they leave.”
Warren Forgey, the new president and CEO of Schneck Medical Center, said he appreciates all Weir has done for her patients and the community.
“Dr. Weir is a compassionate and caring individual who has tirelessly devoted her time and talents to helping others,” he said. “On behalf of Schneck Medical Center, I thank her for her many years of service and wish her well in the future.”
Weir said there is no question that there is a need for more primary care physicians in Jackson County. But it’s not just a problem here, she added.
“The problem is all over the country,” she said. “There are not enough people going into primary care today. Young doctors are coming out of school owing more money, and there is a difference in reimbursement and starting salary of a primary care physician versus a specialist who tend to have higher salaries.”
She also said a trend she expects to see continue is the formation of larger medical practices with many doctors and specialists available and the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to handle urgent care needs.
She has six staff members and two contracted services. The hospital has been helping find jobs and additional training for those who will be displaced, she said.
As for the building where her office is located, Weir said, she has been talking with real estate agents and expects it will be used by another medical practice.
“Hopefully, we can find someone to fill it,” she said.
Jackson County medical practices accepting new patients
Jackson Park Physicians
1124 Medical Place, Seymour
Family Medical Center
225 S. Pine St., Suite 200, Seymour
Health Centered Medical Group
600 S. Jackson Park Drive, Seymour
Career: 38 years as a primary care physician, Legacy Primary Care Physicians, 120 St. Louis Ave. in downtown Seymour
Education: Graduated in 1972 from the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis and completed her residency at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie a year later
Family: Husband, George Weir, a pathologist at Schneck Medical Center; children, Amy Weir of Speedway, Beth Weir of Colorado and Matt Weir of Pennsylvania; and three grandchildren, Caleb, 9, Christian, 7, and Georgia, 1, all of Pennsylvania
Memberships: Schneck Foundation board, Zion Lutheran Church
Hobbies: Traveling (she visited the Holy Land last year)