Former office manager remembers Dr. Mead Hayward, The County’s first pediatrician

1 month ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Ruth Ross has had a “wonderful life.” Married to her husband Emmett for 74 years until his passing, she, at 94 years of age, spoke of their lives, traveling during her husband’s 23 years in the Air Force.  

“We saw so much of the world,” she said. “Visiting many countries including Germany and Libya and many parts of the United States. We loved the outdoors, cross country skiing, square dancing and other activities. We had a great life together.” It was while stationed in Germany that Ruth and her husband adopted two boys.   

Born in Caribou and a 1946 graduate of Caribou High School, Ross began working for Dr. Mead Hayward, Aroostook County’s first pediatrician, in 1971. She was the office manager of his pediatric practice in Caribou until he retired. She explained that Dr. Hayward was extremely busy but always remained focused on his patients.

“Dr. Hayward, and I always called him Dr. Hayward, being the only pediatrician in this area and had a very busy practice,” said Ross. “Everyone wanted him to care for their children. In addition to his work in the office he also completed rounds at Cary Memorial Hospital which had a large children’s ward. He would call every morning from the hospital prior to coming to the office to update me on what was happening there.”

Ross has lived in her Caribou home for 51 years. She lives alone with the support of her son Don, a former Registered Nurse and volunteer at Cary Medical Center. She considered working with Dr. Hayward a privilege. 

“Dr. Hayward was an exceptional individual and very dedicated to his patients,” she said. “As busy as he was he would never turn anyone down. When I began working for him he told me this would not be a 9–5 job, and he was right. We would often be working in the office doing paperwork, and reviewing the next day’s patients until well into the evening.” 

Dr. Hayward and his late wife Margaret came to Caribou in 1953. He joined the hospital’s medical staff while his wife volunteered with the Cary Hospital Auxiliary. It wasn’t long before his practice became so busy that he often canceled his vacation plans.

“I can’t remember how many times Dr. Hayward had to cancel his planned vacations because there were just so many sick children,” said Ross. “He always put his patients first and he was often way overworked. He kind of saw the children like they were his own and would work with parents, especially new moms to reassure them during difficult times.”

As Ross pointed out, Dr. Hayward was not only responsible for his pediatric practice but he also had to be on call for the hospital.  

“For many years doctor Hayward had to be on call. Not only for pediatric patients but for all the services. As the hospital was able to recruit additional pediatricians life became a bit easier although we continued to be very busy until the time of his retirement.”

During long winter months Ross said Dr. Hayward would occasionally cross country ski to the hospital “He was so dedicated,” she said. “He would not let a winter storm or messy roads make him miss his hospital rounds for the children. He really made a difference in generations of children and would often see children of those he had cared for when they were children. He was a remarkable individual and was greatly missed when he retired from his practice in 1987.”

Ross continued to work in the pediatrics office following Dr. Hayward’s retirement. She remembers the move from Cary Memorial Hospital to Cary Medical Center in 1978 and worked at the pediatric office on the Cary campus. Retiring in 1991 she then volunteered at Cary Medical Center for the next 15 years, giving her time in the oncology service and then in human resources.

Following his retirement in 1987 Dr. Hayward took an administrative position at Cary Medical Center where he helped manage special projects and worked with the medical staff. Both Dr. Hayward and his wife Margaret were honored with the establishment of the “Hayward Suite”, a conciliatory convenient lodging facility for families of critically ill patients so that they may be at their loved one’s bedside while they are hospitalized. The suite was made possible by the generous donations from the hospital’s medical staff, friends of the Hayward family and the greater community. 

Dr. Hayward died at the age of 69 but left a legacy that will live on well beyond the 100th anniversary of Cary Medical Center.