WAYNESBORO, Pa. – Dr. Bruce Foster of Waynesboro didn’t plan to spend most of his more than 40-year career in emergency medicine. However, a need and a temporary placement in 1985 led him to the emergency department at Waynesboro Hospital where he remained at its helm until scaling back to part time for the last two years.
He recently retired and reflected on his time spent in emergency medicine, including the evolution of the field and his aid in the creation of Waynesboro Area Advanced Life Support – Medic 2.
Dr. Foster was board certified in internal medicine and in 1975, started work at Waynesboro Hospital.
“I had a half-time private practice and was half-time salaried as the hospital’s director of the intensive care unit,” he said.
After proving his competence in running the ICU for 10 years, hospital leaders approached him to temporarily take the lead in the emergency department.
“They came to me and said, ‘We’ve been through two or three directors of the emergency room in the last couple years. We’d like you to take over that department, administratively, until we can find a new director.’”
Dr. Foster thought the change and entry into the burgeoning field of emergency medicine would be invigorating.
Three months after becoming the ED’s interim director, he was named the permanent chief of emergency medicine. He remained in that position full time until 2016 when he resigned to work half time in that capacity for his final two years.
“I always enjoyed critical care and the ER is where you get your first shot at caring for critically ill patients,” said Dr. Foster.
He said he enjoyed working with emergency department staff, acting as a mentor to help them enhance skills and readiness for whatever emergent medical case they encountered.
One memory Dr. Foster still carries with him is one of the first times he assigned his staff to independently care for two critically ill patients while he gave treatment to a third.
“I had trained these nurses and they knew what they were doing. For them to come into their own and be able to function essentially on their own – that was very, very rewarding,” he said.
In 1985, Dr. Foster developed the Medic 2 program with an EMT who returned to the area after training to be a paramedic. Medic 2 delivers hospital-level care to community members’ doorsteps. It was one of the first of its kind in the area.
“It was one of the more rewarding aspects of my career because I was able to participate in taking interested, motivated kids who knew nothing and building them into EMTs, and then paramedics to create a program that really worked,” he explained.
Now that he’s retired, Dr. Foster is helping his wife of 49 years, Jan, with tasks around their home.
“I’m my wife’s full-time hired hand on our horse farm,” he laughed.
He also plans to spend time with his grandchildren, play a lot of tennis and, perhaps, start a third novel – he’s had four books published, two of which are medical thrillers.
Dr. Foster’s advice for people who want to live a life of wellness?
“Exercise,” he said, noting benefits from delays in atherosclerosis to lowered incidence of cognitive disorders and increased quality of life. “It’s the absolute biggest bang for your buck and you don’t have to train like an Olympic athlete – just 20 minutes a day, three times a week is all you need.”
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