The obituary for Dr. Laura L. Reid wonderfully captured her unique personality, vivaciousness, and joy in life and love of people. Her daughters Katy and Sarah brought it alive at her memorial service in the Grange Hall on August 30. A more loving tribute would not be possible.
I wish to acknowledge that Dr. Reid made important medical contributions. In the 1980s, a group of physicians organized a program that developed into the Physician Health Service of the Massachusetts Medical Society. At that time Dr. Reid was living in Falmouth. She and the late physician and author Michael Palmer, M.D., along with her young toddler Katy, would come to monthly meetings in Waltham.
That program that they helped devise has served over 2,500 physicians at risk of chemical dependence or mental or physical illness over the years. The vast majority have been helped and returned to practice. We changed the perception of addiction from a medical ethical lapse to an illness that can often be helped with recovery monitored and patient safety assured.
Also in the 1980s, a shortage of emergency room physicians occurred at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Dr. Reid at first commuted from Falmouth and served patients in the emergency department. At her memorial service, patients told of her emergency care saving their lives. Others spoke of her loving embrace when caring for patients. Dr. Reid was possibly the first or among the first women physicians at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Nurses spoke of their enthusiasm working with her in the emergency department and her response when called to see a patient, “Here I come!”
For over a dozen years, Dr. Reid had made the Vineyard her home. She embraced young people and her home was often a refuge for adolescents. She bravely faced her cerebral aneurysm and stroke and the needed neurosurgery. She focused on asking the neurosurgeons to allow her to ride a roller coaster after the surgery. (No!) After her medical condition did not permit her to practice medicine, she worked at various jobs around the Vineyard, including gardening and Alley’s General Store. When I stopped there after the service, a fellow worker had no idea she was a physician, merely the girl with short hair who was fun.
Bernard Levy, M.D.
The writer is founding medical director of the Massachusetts Physician Health Service, a past trustee of the Massachusetts Medical Society and a past member of the physician advisory committee of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.