If you listen to former surgeon and wound care physician, Dr. C. Douglas Fogg, speak about his many years of medical and community service, he’ll tell you his work, his career, and his community effort all come down to a very simple thing — his enjoyment of and respect for people.
A respected surgeon who at age 65 transferred to wound care management instead of retiring, Dr. Fogg “officially” retired in 2015, but at age 88 is still helping others through board service, clinical assistance, donations, mentoring, and more.
He doesn’t make a distinction between his work before retirement and what he does now, except to say with a smile, that he may have slowed his pace a little.
His work has always been his vocation.
“I have an avocation,” said Dr. Fogg. “I’m a doctor. I didn’t want to work.”
As a surgeon, Dr. Fogg made house calls, enjoying the chance to see patients in their home environments. Years later, he still recalls details of those visits like the formal wedding photos and other family memorabilia he saw.
He maintains that focus on personal connection in his community work especially at Mercy Meals, the New Bedford non-profit that provides hot breakfasts in the community and operates a foot clinic in the city.
It started with a simple visit when Dr. Fogg visited Mercy Meals and asked if he could come down and help. Two years later the nurse running the foot clinic retired, he said, adding, “So I took over.”
Executive Director David Motta calls Dr. Fogg’s contributions at Mercy Meals tremendous.
“He comes by at least once a week bringing socks and sometimes backpacks,” he said. “He’s really an incredible man.”
Motta said Dr. Fogg also contributes with the foot clinic during the academic year, working with UMass Dartmouth student nurses who “check vitals and do foot checks for the (clinic) patrons, whoever wants to have it done.”
Some days that’s about 10 people while others are fewer or even none, he said.
Those who come, said Motta, “Love it. They soak their feet and they get new socks and shoes.”
At the clinic, Dr. Fogg helps patrons and passes on his knowledge and skills to a younger generation of nurses, preparing a syllabus on wound care for them and taking time to mentor them.
“I give them both teaching and treating. It’s just fun,” he said.
Nursing students also hear his views on connecting with people and medical etiquette.
Dr. Fogg says he was once told not to speak to the patrons, a command he found incredulous. He finds the interview process important to treatment and the patrons receptive and appreciative.
“Talk to them,” he tells nursing students. “They want to talk.”
This fall, the Boys & Girls Club recognized Dr. Fogg with its Robert Chadwick Community Service Award where he’s served as a board member for more than 25 years.
“His passion and compassion for helping others is second to none. He’s just a beautiful soul,” said Robert A. Mendes, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford. “He’s very supportive of all the programs, not only monetarily. He’s come in here and worked with nursing students to do heart checks and every holiday season those families in need have cards from Market Basket to make sure they have food on the table.”
Service was important to his entire family, Dr. Fogg said describing how his wife, Sandra, who died recently, was recognized for the longest term of service for the Association for the Relief of Aged Women in New Bedford.
“They established a permanent fund of $1500 just in general for her 39 years of service,” he said, adding that the fund is called the Sandra Roberts Fogg Beneficiary Award.
With all he’s done and learned, Dr. Fogg wants young people, especially those entering the medical profession, to know they don’t have to be in a hurry to get everything done.
I tell them, ‘You’re all going to live to be 90…so don’t be in a big hurry. Your careers are going to be long.’”
Asked about advice he would share with other retirees or anyone preparing for retirement, Dr. Fogg recommends sharing any skills you have.
“If you’ve got a talent for something, use it. Share it with people,” he said from his Dartmouth home. “Give back. You’ve got to.”