Dr. William J.H. Fischer
- Written by William McDonald
Founded MIlford Hospital
Dr. William J.H. Fischer came to Milford after graduating from Yale Medical School in 1911 and interning for a year at St. Raphael’s Hospital in New Haven. General practitioners back then only needed a year of residency after medical school. He made house calls in his early years by horse and buggy. By the time he retired in his late 70’s he had helped found Milford Hospital, which opened in 1924, and was known as dean of Milford’s medical community. He continued making house calls right up until retirement. He did many different kinds of surgeries including hernias, appendix, broken arms and legs, all kinds of wounds, not to mention delivering thousands of babies.
Dr. Fischer was born in Danbury Sept. 1, 1882, and attended Concordia Collegiate Institute in New York City where he earned a degree in pharmacy in 1905. He practiced pharmacy for several years and was admitted to Yale Medical School without ever actually attending college. His pharmacy training must have helped him gain admittance. While practicing in Milford, he was one of the few area physicians who was also a licensed pharmacist. His son, William Fischer Jr. and grandson, William Fischer III, both became doctors.
Patients who wished to see the Dr. Fischer in his office came to a small building next to his house where he and his wife, Emma, settled at 3 Lafayette Street. The building had only three rooms: waiting, consulting and examining. No appointment was needed. Just come in, sit down and wait your turn. In addition to general practice, he had a strong interest in pediatrics and was head of that department for many years once Milford Hospital was built. He was later chief of medicine, a position in which he served until age 75.
His skill as a physician impacted Milford in many other ways. In 1914, he became the town’s medical examiner, a post he held for 39 years. He later was police surgeon, fire surgeon and health officer. When World War I came, he was examining physician for the local draft board and then entered the service as a first lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps. With World War II, he was chairman of the medical examining board of the draft board and director the Civil Defense Medical Unit. He received a United States Congressional Citation for service in wartime.
His work was not confined to Milford. H represented the Connecticut Medical Society at national conventions five times. He was a member of the executive committee of the Connecticut State Medical Examiners, president of the New Haven County Medical Society, member of the New England Pediatric Society, American Medical Examiners Association and American Academy of General Practitioners.
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