Spend any significant amount of time speaking with parents in Champaign-Urbana and you’ll likely hear the name of Dr. Malcolm Hill. And if you’ve lived in C-U, chances are you have been touched in some way by Hill’s life’s work.
The Carle pediatrician is retiring this summer after 40 years caring for children, the last 35 at Carle. So that means when it comes to taking care of young patients, he is …
“On my third generation,” Hill, 66, said. “That’s when I decided that I needed to retire.”
He’s only half-kidding. But as he prepares to depart — final day: June 30 — Hill took time recently to reflect on four decades of work and the experiences he’ll cherish.
“You know the family well. Know who you’re dealing with, and they know you,” he said. “It’s amazing the trust that develops over the years. You know how people are going to respond. I can lecture a few parents that I knew when they were kids.
“Boy, I’ve had so much fun, and the families I’ve taken care of have been so precious.”
From his office, Hill discussed a variety of topics with Chambanamoms.
On how pediatrics has changed over the years … “Just a huge, major explosion in technology and treatments, and knowledge. It’s incredible. All of the genetic diseases we’re seeing that we didn’t even know existed. It’s very expensive but there are some specific things we can do now for some of these kids. Advances in immunizations. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time taking care of really seriously ill kids; it’s rare now to see some of these things.”
On technology … “I saw the very first CT scan done in the Midwest (at Ford Hospital in Detroit). They had one of four CT scanners in the country at that time. Watched a CT scan done of a boy who had a cerebral bleed and he was unconscious. In the past we had to do crazy things to figure out what was going on, drill a hole in his brain. It took 40 minutes. It was so amazing to see that. It just changed the way radiology is done now. They can do a CT scan in 20 seconds and the images are so good.”
On the internet age … “Huge change. I can search for problems on my select sites and find what is happening in medicine, the most recent treatments. I get references to follow up so I know these are legitimate sites. It used to take forever to get research and literature. It’s fantastic. The other thing, too, is obviously people are using the internet now, and there are some good sources for families (like HealthyChildren.org).”
On what he’s treating more these days … “A lot more mental health. Lot of depression, anxiety, ADD, eating disorders. I think we’re seeing them more, or we’re recognizing them more and treating them more. But either way, since it’s hard to get into a psychiatrist or a psychologist, primary care doctors are being allowed to care for individuals. And my training was not really up to speed, so I had to spend a lot of time on my own to learn how to treat people with anxiety, depression, ADD, those kinds of things.”
On how that’s affecting his work … “When it’s 6-9 months to see a mental health care provider, I am the option. I think primary care doctors are going to have to do more of that. It will be interesting to see how we’re going to redesign mental health. I’d like to see a counselor in my office, available to me, someone imbedded here in my facility, so when I see a mother and child, I can talk to this provider in mental health about the next step. Maybe not a psychiatrist, but a trained clinical social worker who is really good at what they do. … I wish they wouldn’t even call it mental health. It’s part of your health. It’s a huge part of your health.”
On recommendations for picking a pediatrician … “The issue there is a smooth transition. I worked for a couple of years to hire seven pediatricians and I have been very happy with all of them. It takes time for relationships to develop with kids and I think people just need to be patient. The pediatricians understand that. If you can meet a pediatrician when (the child) is not acutely ill, that would be nice. Get to know the family. If you can do a meet-and-greet that would be great.”
And how will he spend retirement? While doing “a little work with the Carle Foundation,” Hill will spend more time traveling and enjoying his grandkids. He will continue to do some work in Guatemala. He’ll advance his interest in photography.
“And I’d like to learn to play guitar better.”
IS YOUR CHILD a patient of Dr. Hill? Here are some tips in choosing a new pede:
Watch how the doctor interacts with your child; decide if you “click” during the introductory appointment; utilize online patient reviews; ask for references; participate in Chambanamoms’ upcoming online chat with Carle doctors who are accepting patients.