It was 1966 when Felix E. Schletter, MD, arrived in Morristown to practice endocrinology. The endocrinologist on staff – Morristown’s first – said he was leaving because the area was not ready for subspecialties, and he warned the newcomer, “You can’t make a living here.”
Dr. Schletter stayed anyway.
“We had two pathologists, and one ran the lab,” recalls Dr. Schletter. “If a new blood test became available, he immediately added it to our roster, which allowed us to diagnose patients in ways we weren’t previously able to do.”
“I believe this is one of the main reasons we grew so fast and into the reputation we have today,” he adds.
Dr. Schletter also remembers that there were only a handful of mostly general surgeons. The Cardiac Care Unit consisted of six beds in the solarium at the end of a wing.
But the hospital was poised for growth – and grow it did. Over the next 36 years, Dr. Schletter proved his predecessor wrong. His practice grew to become Endocrine Medical Associates with five endocrinologists.
Retired since 2002, the now 85-year-old doctor and past president of the medical staff returned to the hospital for open heart surgery. John Brown III, MD, the Grant V.S. Parr, MD, Chair in Cardiovascular Surgery, replaced his aortic valve and repaired his mitral valve.
If he was nostalgic for the intimate place that was once his second home, he certainly appreciated the now nationally recognized care he received. For 11 days, the physician who once called the shots became a very complimentary patient.
“It was a lot of fun,” says Dr. Schletter, deadpanning with a chuckle. “I went through the steps just like anyone else would.”
After surgery was over, all he wanted to do was go home, but there was one more stop along the way.
He spent two days at Atlantic Rehabilitation. It was here that he learned how to walk using his cane in a way that would not put undue pressure on the breastbone that was still fragile from surgery.
“They even taught him how to get out of a chair without using his arms,” says his wife Linda. “It was the icing on the cake.”
Pictured: Linda and Felix Schletter