Start of the Wyoming Medical Society
In early 1898, Dr. E. Stuver of Fort Collins, Colorado and Dr. Thomas G. Maghee of Rawlins and Lander, Wyoming sent letters inviting several physicians to meet in Rawlins at the Union Pacific Hotel to organize the Wyoming Medical Society (WMS). At their first meeting, members selected Rock Springs resident Dr. R. Harvey Reed as the first society president.
On November 1, 1898, the Wyoming Medical Society met in Rock Springs. In this meeting, society members reviewed scientific papers and case discussions, addressed changes in medical education and reviewed a few other matters Mike Jording, MD, explains in a 2012 edition of Wyoming Medicine. At that meeting, Dr. Reed also advocated for a Wyoming State Board of Health.
Several local physicians were members of the early society. Some of the original members include:
- Robert C. Chamberlain – Rock Springs
- W. C. C. Freeman – Rock Springs
- R. Harvey Reed – Rock Springs
- E. P. Ranch – Rock Springs
- Charlotte G. Hawk – Green River
- Jacob W. Hawk – Green River
Dr. Charlotte G. Hawk and Jacob W. Hawk were a husband and wife physician team, an unusual circumstance then and now.
Letter sent in 1898 inviting doctors to meet and form the Wyoming Medical Society.
First Society President
Dr. R. Harvey Reed grew up in Ohio. He moved to Rock Springs to be the Division Surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Coal Company. In time, he considered Rock Springs home. Although he didn’t come to Rock Springs to mine coal like many men and their families did, he knew what a miner’s life was like. Dr. Reed worked in a coal mine Near North Lawrence, Ohio when he was younger, according to a 1902 edition of the Rock Springs Miner.
Dr. Reed’s brilliant work in surgery before coming to Rock Springs gained him an international reputation, reported a 1907 edition of the Rock Springs Miner. He later became the Surgeon General of Wyoming. According to a 1903, edition of the Rock Springs Miner, Dr. Reed was also elected as one of the presidents of honor at the 14th International Medical Congress in Madrid, Spain.
Current Society President
The current WMS president is Dr. Sigsbee Duck. Like the first WMS president, Dr. Duck is also a Rock Springs resident. As president, he runs meetings and works with other society members to help the organization run effectively.
Dr. Duck believes the Wyoming Medical Society strives to be patient advocates by protecting patients from legislative actions they feel do not improve patient care. The Society lobbies the legislature to protect the public and physicians from outside influences that don’t have either of their best interests in mind.
I love to practice medicine and love taking care of patients. In my life, taking care of people has been one of the greatest honors I have had.
-Sigsbee Duck, MD
Dr. Duck appreciates that the WMS allows doctors to meet other medical professionals from around the state. This allows physicians to get to know each other and compare notes, leading to better patient care.
Dr. Duck said, “As a physician, you have to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and be willing to pass a patient on to someone else that might know more than you. That is how you offer patients the best care.”
Dr. Duck is originally from North Carolina where he was president of the High Point Medical Society. When he moved to Gillette, Wyoming, he reestablished the WMS there and also reestablished it in Rock Springs when he moved here.
If you reach the position Dr. Duck has, it tells you there is a credibility as well as an admiration for what he has done among other doctors.
-Tom Lacock, Communications Director, WMS
Dr. Duck’s father was involved with the North Carolina Medical Society. His father is a major reason for what he does today. “I was supposed to go home and do family practice with my dad,” Dr. Duck said, “but I always wanted to live in Wyoming, so I moved out here. I love it here. They’re going to have to carry me away in a box to get me to leave.”
Special thanks to the Sweetwater County Historical Museum for their help with the research on Dr. R. Harvey Reed.