On Friday at the Tennova medical clinic in LaFollette, Burgin Wood showed up for another day of work with a lobby full of people waiting to see the good doctor.
The crowd that awaited Dr. Wood was not at the clinic for a medical exam. They were there to celebrate decades of devoted medical service by a hometown hero. Friday marked Wood's retirement after 54 years of practicing medicine in LaFollette.
"He is not only my doctor, but my friend. I think everybody in this county feels the same way," said Roberta Baker, a retired nurse.
"Dr. Wood has taken care of whole generations. I just think he's one of the best doctors I've ever worked with," said Mildred Baird, a retired RN who worked with Wood for several decades. "He was always so intense about giving the right care to his patients."
"Doctor Wood is like a living legend. He's done so much for the people," said LaFollette mayor Michael Stanfield.
"I haven't done anything unusual," said Wood. "I just practiced medicine and enjoyed what I was doing."
Dr. Wood served the county where he was born and raised. Wood was born in Jacksboro, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, went on to medical school at the University of Tennessee, and eventually set up shop in LaFollette in 1958. In the early years his practice was a family affair as Wood partnered with his brother-in-law Dr. Crutchfield. For several decades the partners were the two main surgeons in all of Campbell County.
"Dr. Wood has helped so many people. Whether you were just going in for a check-up, were in some kind of traumatic accident, or anything else you can imagine, Dr. Wood always went out of his way to take care of you," said Stanfield. "I'm alive today because he helped identify cancer in my tongue."
Wood earned a sterling reputation for his medical expertise and generous spirit of fairness.
"He was a friend to everyone. Rich, poor, it didn't make any difference," said Baker.
"There are some doctors out there who take better care of patients who are rich. Dr. Wood would take equally good care of a person, even though he knew they did not have any money to pay for his services."
"We treated everybody," said Wood. "We did not discriminate whether they could pay or not pay. Of course, things have changed a lot since those early days in terms of socioeconomic systems and healthcare payment methods like Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance."
Now 88-years-old, Dr. Wood said he is still in good health and age has not negatively impacted his ability to practice medicine. He has a family full of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren happy to see him retire. However, Dr. Wood admits retirement will not be easy.
"I'm a little remorseful about quitting and stopping the practice. I've
been coming to work regularly for a very long time and it's hard to
change that pattern of behavior," said Wood. "I just figured I've done this for a very long time and it was time to stop and do something else."
On his final day of work, the City of LaFollette officially proclaimed November 30, 2012, as "Doctor Burgin Wood Day." State representatives also issued a formal proclamation in honor of Dr. Wood's service. Wood is not as impressed with himself as the community is.
"I thought it was unnecessary. I just liked what I was doing. It wasn't really anything to celebrate," said Wood.
Dr. Wood's patients say that humble and hard-working approach is exactly why they have celebrated his work for 54 years.
"There is only one Dr. Wood," said Baker. "He is one of the best physicians Campbell County will ever have."