Houlton Region

Dr. Madigan’s desk returned to his family

Well worn, slightly larger than a standard desk, the middle drawer does not fully close any longer but the stature behind this desk will live on. Returned to the Madigan family after 73 years of service, returned to its beginning, spanning three long careers from a time when things were different to the modern-day healthcare environment.

The desk has witnessed the transition of the era related to the practice of medicine and the family physician into today’s world of specialty medicine, family practice settings with large waiting rooms and “everything matching furniture,” this desk seemed at home and still able to do what the original intent was. It provided a constant reminder that there is a proper way to do things and a proper way to maintain “one’s self.”

Dr. John B. Madigan, MD (1917-1989) was a pillar of the community and an icon in the Houlton area and Aroostook County healthcare history. He began his family practice in Houlton in 1947. His contributions were many, to name a few Dr. Madigan was instrumental in establishing the health clinics in Patten, Smyrna and Danforth; he also was an early proponent of physician assistants’ prescribing ability. His career and family name are deeply seeded in our community. His name and medical legacy, to this day continue to be highly respected.

Dr. Madigan

On Sept. 9 Dr. Madigan’s desk was returned to his family at their Court Street residence. On hand to present the desk were Dr. Ted Sussman and Dr. Hassan Abouleish. Dr. Sussman began his career working with Dr. Madigan. Following Dr Madigan’s retirement, Dr. Sussman assumed “The Desk” and utilized it through his long and successful career.

Dr. Sussman reflected memories of Dr. Madigan consulting with patients across the desk, a practice rarely if ever used in modern day medicine. Dr. Sussman mentioned that he himself would follow this practice when meeting with patients on certain occurrences.

Following Dr. Sussman’s tenure with the desk, Dr. Abouleish inherited its use. Continuing the rural medicine legacy, both physicians inspired by its history and former owner, continued to use the aging desk. Dr. Abouleish mentioned to the Madigan family that whenever he needed a moment to process, he would sit at the desk and whatever it was that he needed would come to him.

From inspiration to functionality the desk supported three area physicians through life and career ups and downs. Long days and nights of being away from family to support other families, that is what the family physician protocol required and that is what each of them proudly followed. Our area owes a wealth of gratitude to these three men, their families and to one special desk. 

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