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Farewell to Payne
Retirement for John Payne, M.D., has been bittersweet. He loves spending more time with his wife, four sons and grandchildren, playing an occasional round of golf, organizing old photographs and getting a full night’s sleep. But he misses the professional challenges of anesthesiology and his many friends and colleagues at HCGH. The sentiment is clearly mutual.
Payne’s career has spanned more than 40 years. After earning his medical degree from Howard University, he joined the U.S. Navy as a general medical officer in 1965. He planned to go into internal medicine when he started his residency at Georgetown University, but during surgery rotations quickly became interested in anesthesiology and switched to that “more active field of internal medicine.”
He served as chief of Anesthesiology at Provident Hospital in Baltimore for three years before Henry Seidel, M.D., then president of the Columbia Medical Plan (CMP), offered him the same position with CMP in 1972. CMP was the result of a 1969 Johns Hopkins partnership with Connecticut General Life Insurance Company to form a prepaid voluntary health insurance plan for the citizens of Columbia. Payne was reluctant to leave his position at Provident, but “Dr. Seidel was very convincing and personable and I finally decided that this was a good place for me to be and a great opportunity to build an anesthesiology department.”
In 1973, Howard County General Hospital was founded to provide inpatient support for members of CMP, but the medical community realized that a rapidly growing county like Howard needed a full-service hospital. The facility was turned over to a community-based board of trustees and became a private, not-for-profit hospital.
It soon became clear that HCGH did not have a large enough patient base to survive unless private physicians from Howard County came in. There was considerable contention among private and CMP doctors and when Payne was elected president of the HCGH Medical Staff in 1973, he worked diligently with other board members – including Lillian Clark, Vivian Bailey and Dorothy Thompson – to resolve differences and meld the interests of the CMP and private doctors. Fortunately, the community physicians invested in and built the Medical Arts Building. “These private physicians were critical for the survival of the hospital and the betterment of medicine in Howard County,” noted Payne.
In 1978, Lutheran Hospital submitted a proposal to build another hospital in Howard County, but the Maryland Health Resources Planning Commission turned down that proposal. “Our board members met for many, many hours with regulatory and planning boards to fight for the hospital’s survival as the entity it is today . . . a community hospital in one of the fastest growing counties in the state and the nation,” commented Payne.
Payne was the only doctor to be elected president of the HCGH medical staff two times (his second term was in 2000) and was integrally involved in the hospital’s growth during his long tenure. Modest in accepting praise for his many accomplishments, Payne always stresses the others who were pivotal in the success of HCGH. He remarked, “Vic Broccolino has been a great leader and very supportive in the building of the new Patient Pavilion, with new technology that has vastly improved all disciplines. Anesthesia gases have changed, techniques have improved and anesthesiology is much safer than it was. HCGH has learned from past mistakes and it has learned well. We can now compete with other hospitals in the region to attract highly skilled physicians.”
Payne made the difficult decision to retire from Anesthesia Associates in early 2011. Some medical issues influenced his decision, but he noted, “It was time to give the younger doctors their chance. If I leave a legacy, I hope it’s that I have given doctors who joined our practice the opportunity to grow and develop their strengths as physicians. I leave behind an excellent group of anesthesiologists and of that I am very proud.”