Over three years of long days and late nights in the Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, the Class of 1977 got to know each other pretty well.
Those bonds are even stronger today. The nine physicians in the class, who went on to practice all over the East Coast, have gathered for a reunion in each of the 40 years since they finished residency.
“Over the years, we’ve gone from talking about babies and grade schools to ‘When are you going to retire?’ ’’ said Bill Bakken, M.D., who practices at LG Health Physicians Family Medicine Abbeyville.
“Every time we get together, we realize we have the same frustrations and challenges professionally and family-wise. Knowing that we aren’t out there doing this alone re-energizes us. It’s sort of like going on a retreat to recharge your batteries.”
The Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program’s Class of 1977 is pictured then and now. Back row, from left: Drs. Michael Rudman, Peter Gregoire, Peter Mason, Bill Bakken, Peter Altimare and John Surry. Front row, from left: Drs. Richard Bacon, Richard Levandowski and Hugh Brallier.
Dr. Bakken’s classmates include Dr. Peter Altimare, who practices at Manor Family Health Center, and Dr. Richard Bacon, who retired from New Holland Family Health Center. Drs. Hugh Brallier, Peter Gregoire, Richard Levandowski, Peter Mason, Michael Rudman and John Surry see patients from Maryland to Maine.
Founder Nik Zervanos, M.D., recalls that the “strong and able” Class of 1977 – one of the residency program’s first classes -- helped to shape the program into what it is today. He believes the class is the only one that has managed to get nearly everyone together on a regular basis, year after year.
“Your class exemplifies the meaning of fraternity,” Dr. Zervanos said. “It fills me with gratitude and pleasure that you continue to demonstrate such a bond and friendship for one another.”
The class bonded closely from the beginning, Dr. Bakken said. Whenever someone needed something, a classmate would step forward to help. If the residents were on call at LGH, no one would go home or to sleep without first checking to make sure his classmates were OK.
Dr. Bakken recalls that Dr. Levandowski was in the hospital for back surgery when he heard an alarm go off for a cardiac arrest in the room across the hall. He jumped out of bed and performed CPR in his hospital gown.
Dr. Bakken also recalls lots of antics around the hospital and one memorable occasion when the classmates got kicked out of the Roseville Tavern for being a little bit rowdy. He remembers Dr. Mason, who resembled actor Alan Alda, meeting the real Alda in person when he was in town for an event.
The Class of 1977 typically goes away for a long weekend each year, rotating the trip-planning duties. Spouses go along, and over the years, they have formed close friendships too. The group has visited Maine, Canada and even Costa Rica. They celebrated their 30th anniversary with a trip to Ireland and their 40th anniversary with a long weekend in Auburn, New York.
“Everyone in the Class of 1977 feels extremely grateful and blessed for the opportunity to do our family practice training at LGH, under the leadership of Dr. Zervanos, Herb Tindall and John Randall, and for the teaching by innumerable private physicians from across all specialties,” Dr. Bakken said.