Dr. Ann Hoefer Says Farewell to Guilford Pediatrics
The shoreline will be losing one of its most beloved pediatricians now that Dr. Ann Hoefer has retired from her practice in Guilford. Since 1994, Ann has been with Guilford Pediatrics, which has served the shoreline community since the 1950s, becoming a cherished institution for parents and children.
A Madison resident, Ann grew up in South Carolina and came to medicine by a rather circuitous route. After graduating with a degree in English from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Ann found herself at Yale in the graduate English department, seemingly on track for a career as a teacher.
However, when she got to Yale, an acquaintance informed her that Yale admittance limitations for women, which at that time severely restricted many careers for women, had greatly increased their acceptance policies, providing a clearer path for females entering the medical field.
“I came to Yale as a graduate student in English, and when I got there, I met a friend’s roommate who was a medical student. I had taken anatomy when I was in high school and said, ‘Hmmm…this is great; I want to be a doctor.’ But a teacher said, ‘Why don’t you be an anatomy teacher, because they don’t let too many girls into medical school.’ I checked around, and the schools that were available would only take four women per class, so I said the hell with that,” Ann laughs. “But when I asked this friend how many women were in her class, she said 30 to 35, and I said to myself, ‘Oooh, they’ve changed the rules.’ So as a grad student, I could take any course I wanted… and that’s when I changed and ended up applying at Yale Medical School.”
Ann says she initially was set in her conviction that there were certain fields of medicine that didn’t appeal to her and were definitely not on her list of preferred careers. However, Ann says life has a way of taking you in unforeseen directions.
“When I was in medical school, I knew there were two fields that I did not want to go into—psychiatry and pediatrics. And I actually went into psychiatry, and then after, when I had children [and] I was no longer intimidated by babies, I realized that I missed hands-on medicine—a lot. So, I went back when I was 40 to do a residency. And very fortunately for me, I ended up being taken on at Guilford Pediatrics, and I am so glad. I was lucky to have found a home here. I have had a wonderful working life. When I look back on it, there are no regrets. I was very fortunate.”
Ann started in 1994 at Guilford Pediatrics and was warmly received by both staff and patients.
“I love ‘my’ children. I really like taking care of new parents and helping them feel confident. That is my biggest pleasure in what I do. To see kids as adults that I saw as babies… I’ve been in a room with the grandmother, mother, and new baby, who have all come through the office,” Ann says. “For the most part, our parents have been just great to work with.”
Ann has many treasured memories of her time treating at the clinic, but the tragedy at Newtown was a day that had a huge impact on her and her profession.
“I can tell you that my worst memory is the day I got the news about Sandy Hook,” recalls Ann. “The rest of the day, of course, I was examining children, and I just could not keep from contemplating what bullets would do to these bodies. It was just awful, and it was so bad; I thought that finally, this will turn things around, and it didn’t. That was a bad day. But I’ve had so many good days.”
Ann says the staff at the office have always garnered her respect for their dedication to their clients.
“One of the great strengths of the place is the front desk staff. They are so kind, helpful, and patient,” says Ann.
According to Ann, one of the biggest benefits of working for the Guilford office is its independence in treatment. The group is not affiliated with any larger network making treatment less complicated and more personal for staff and patients alike.
“The reason that I’m so glad I ended up here at Guilford Pediatrics is that we stayed independent... And that is pretty unusual these days. The prime motivating factor for us, and it has not been easy, and the person to whom a lot of the credit should go to is Jon Stein, our Managing Director. He is very good at understanding and figuring out what is going on. We have had an influx of patients from other practices that have been taken over. At these other places, you are not allowed to see patients after hours or on weekends. We just think that is awful medicine.”
That means long hours and lots of missed family time for the doctors on call, but ultimately it is what sets Guilford Pediatrics apart from the rest of the pediatric medical community, says Ann.
“Let’s face it, it is a drag to be on call on weekends, and it’s not fun to get those telephone calls in the middle of the night. You certainly don’t welcome that, but if you want to offer good care, that has to go along with it,” says Ann.
The treatment style of her office is so unique that Ann says they had a difficult time finding a replacement for her because medical professionals simply do not want to be on call these days.
“All the kids coming up these days just want to do shift work. I think we are still practicing medicine the way it was done in the ‘50s, and that is rare,” says Ann. “We, as doctors, really need to be able to call the shots when it comes to medicine. What’s going to happen when there’s nobody left like us?”
Many shoreline parents have the same question, as this style of hands-on personal pediatric care is quickly disappearing.
“It is such a nice homey little spot. I just love that office,” says Ann.
In her time as a pediatrician, Ann says she’s been witness to a number of changes in the field, and surprisingly the digitizing of medical records is one of the more beneficial modernizations that has developed during her tenure.
“Electronic medical records was a big change. Of course, I was resistant to the change initially, being an ‘old’ person, but the system we went with is one that turned out to make a lot of things easier. It’s much easier to see if patients are up to date, and it certainly has made prescription refills much more convenient. Now we can get their request and just send it to the drug store, and they just have one stop,” says Ann.
According to Ann, now that she is 74, she simply wants to travel and spend time knitting, one of her passions when not under the constraints of the job.
“I’m leaving for Oregon next Monday. My niece lives there. I’m going to Wisconsin... to knitting camp this summer. I’m going to the beach in South Carolina, and my daughter works on a boat in the Islands on St. John’s…so I can’t wait to travel. When I was about 14, there was a knitting shop close to my house, and she taught both my sister and I how to knit. I pretty much put it aside, but when I was in medical school to avoid falling asleep during the lectures, I would knit. Then when I was pregnant, I took it up again.”
Ann adds, “I’ve been very fortunate. I was fortunate to find Guilford Pediatrics. I was very fortunate to find my husband, Ben Bradford, who was truly one of the kindest people you could ever meet. I’ve just been a lucky person. It hurts a little bit, but it’s the right decision to be retiring now.”