By Mike Bush
Rushville, IL (KSDK) - There are no u-turns on the road to Rushville, Illinois but you can turn back the clock.
"It's like stepping back in time," said one resident.
About 120 miles and decibels from St. Louis, this Mayberry of the Midwest appears to be from a simpler time. But in this century or the last, one thing has always been certain. The doctor is in.
Russell Dohner has been the town doctor since 1955. Long past the age when most people are seeing their retirement benefits, Doc Dohner is still seeing patients. And just like it's always been, the office is open seven days a week.
"Even on Sunday," he said. "I felt like there was always somebody who would be sick. So before I'd go to church, I'd come here."
When he began his practice, calls were taken on a rotary phone and patient records were kept on index cards. And they still are. There are no appointments. No matter your ailment, it is first come, first served.
"I don't always do it myself but I can refer them to somebody who can do it," said Dr. Dohner.
A graduate of Northwestern University Medical School, he came back home to follow in the footsteps of the doctor who took care of him when he was once ill as a child.
"And when I'd come to, Dr. Hamilton was there," he recalled. "And I decided as a boy, I'm going to be like Dr. Hamilton."
Through the years, Dr. Dohner has mended all sorts of pains and sprains and he's delivered more babies than the population of Rushville. And among the 3,500 or so is Lynn Stambaugh.
"There's four in my family and he delivered all four of us," she said.
Stambaugh is now the CEO of Culbertson Regional Hospital where doc begins and ends everyday unless he's making a house call.
"My older sister had seizures and mom said after she'd have them she would kind of be out of it. He would come and sit at her crib all night," said Stambaugh.
"He doesn't set the standard for technology but he doesn't need a pager because we know where he is," explained Garry Moreland.
Moreland runs the Moreland/Devitt Pharmacy just up the block from Doc's office.
"He's seen it all five times," he says. "He's seen so many patients and he just through experience can recognize and diagnose."
Like all physicians, Doc has to complete additional training every few years to keep up with changes, but his nurses never change, nor the furniture, nor the price of a visit. He still only charges $5. That's not a co-pay, that's the price.
"You know frankly I've never spent much money for going on trips or stuff like that," said Dr. Dohner.
No one in Rushville can remember the last time Dr. Dohner took a vacation and with good reason. In 57 years of practice, he's never taken one.
"I'd like to go out and see the mountains in Colorado," he said.
So when will he do that?
"When I can," he laughed.
In the town square, there are plaques to honor those who served our country. Doc wore the uniform in World War II but it's his service to his community that engraved his name into the heart of Rushville.
"I guess you could call him a local hero," said Stambaugh.
Don't mention hero to Doc Dohner, he has no time for it. He's got too many patients to see as he continues to make the past very much a present.
"I guess I don't know what I'd be doing if I wasn't doctoring, " he added.