Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2020 - 31

M e d i c a l R e c o R d F e at u R e

In Memoriam

David Christensen, MD
Robert Denby, MD
Robert Hippert, DO
by Michael Baxter, M.D.
Former Chair, Dept. of Family and Community Medicine
Reading Hospital

F

amily Physicians have one of the most challenging
and rewarding roles in medicine. The breadth of
knowledge, physical and emotional stamina, and
acceptance of uncertainty in a world with little tolerance
for error that is required of Family Physicians is thankfully
balanced by the deep relationships and personal satisfaction
gained over years of practice encompassing several
generations. Three Berks County physicians who recently
passed away certainly represented the best of that tradition
- providing the best care to their patients while also
dedicating themselves to the role of loving parent, husband
and friend.
Dave Christensen and Bob Denby largely toiled in a bygone world of solo practice. Each no doubt faced challenges
in his solo practice and certainly experienced a world of
change during his career. Both were dedicated doctors
who brought healing to their patients, including religious
missionary work for Dave and a dedication to addiction care
for Bob, who served as the first medical director of "Chit
Chat Farms" (now the Caron Foundation). They were both
well established in Berks County when I arrived, and as
"senior" members of my Department at Reading Hospital I
quickly recognized them for the valuable role they played in
the care of our patients.

Bob Hippert, on the other hand, might be said to have
been ahead of his time. As a leader of Family Medicine,
first at Community General Hospital and then St. Joseph
Hospital, he was an innovator and one of the first of my
colleagues who developed new models (at least for Berks
County) of health care, expanding into group primary care
and eventually multi-specialty practices throughout our
region. Bob was not only an excellent physician but (and I
mean this in the best possible sense) a skilled businessman
as well, who worked throughout his career to place primary
care on a sound and sustainable financial footing. Bob
also dedicated his time and skills to teaching generations
of Family Medicine residents, several of whom remain well
established in our community.
Legacy is perhaps an overused term. However, when
one has touched the lives of so many people in such a
fundamental way as did these three Family Physicians, there
is no question that each leaves his own legacy of caring in the
lives of the many that he touched. Together, they made this
a better community and they made ours a better profession.
For that I am most grateful.

WINTER 2020

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2020

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