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Veteran anesthetist retires after 43 years at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center — Waxahachie

The Waxahachie Daily Light - 9/26/2018


C. Dale Stevenson retired last week after 44 years of administering anesthesia at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center -- Waxahachie and for 17 years in the U.S. Air Force.

"As far as I know, there is not anybody that has provided anesthesia in this community longer than I have," Stevenson said with confidence.

The 1953 Waxahachie High School graduate admitted he is not the most patient person and prefers to complete a task promptly.

"A lot of things in medicine are good, but the immediate gratification in most areas of medicine is a long way down the road. With anesthesia, you see immediate results," Stevenson explained.

He earned a bachelor's of science from the University of North Texas and taught science and chemistry in public school. But the job just did not pay the bills. He later underwent training at St. Joseph's Hospital in Fort Worth and earned his doctorate from Virginia Commonwealth Univerity in Richmond, VI.

Stevenson almost immediately landed a job in his field and endured nine years of training.

His entire practice has been in Waxahachie; first at the W.C. Tenery Hospital where he was hired Jan. 1, 1974, and, eventually, at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center -- Waxahachie. He also worked at hospitals in Corsicana and Ennis.

"I was spread too thin," Stevenson elaborated. "I had an active practice here, and then I'd get a call from Ennis saying, 'so and so didn't show up. We need this, and then I'd get the same call from Corsicana."

Stevenson kept this up for three years and then solely concentrated on Waxahachie.

The first seven years at W.C. Tenery Hospital, Stevenson was the only anesthetist on staff. He shared at that time there was not a large volume of surgery.

"When I first got here we did about 600 surgical procedures a year. We do that much a month now," he explained.


Over the past 44 years, the two most significant changes Stevenson witness were in the additional monitoring devices and how the anesthesia is administered. These advancements made the process safer and project better outcomes.

"The practice of anesthesia has changed tremendously over the years. When I first started, we didn't do a lot of intravenous anesthesia. It was by inhalation gases," he explained.

Another aspect of the field that changed drastically is the monitoring in such of having more capabilities. Pulse oximetry, which measures the oxygen saturation in a person's blood came about, and a product that measured the CO2 produced in the body was invented. Also, a BIS monitor that monitors brainwaves and gave additional information on the depth of anesthesia became available.


Before his practice, Stevenson enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1953 -- they year he graduated high school. His patriotism drove him to join the military as a private.

Initially, he served nine years. He received his medical training and was informed by the Air Force it was short on anesthetists. He was then commissioned in 1985 as a major for eight years.

In 1991, he served in Desert Storm for six months in Germany where he renovated three old buildings into 500-bed hospitals.

"It was fully staffed to receive injuries from Desert Storm," Stevenson explained. "Fortunately, we received very few because there was not a lot of combat during that war because it was a very short war."


In the current day -- before his retirement -- his day-to-day procedures started with a doctor issuing him a medical case. Together they interviewed the patient and informed him or her about what to expect. When in the operating room, Stevenson comforted the patient by reiterating the sequence of operation.

During the operation, Stevenson would stay in the room and provided updates to the doctor throughout. The longest he stood in the operating room was eight hours, and he could not recall the type of surgery. Once the procedure was finished, everyone would meet back in the hospital room, and the patient is contacted the next day for a follow-up.

For some patients, being "put under" can be scary. Stevenson said he never had an issue putting someone to sleep. "So far as patients not surviving anesthesia, that is very, very rare. And, in my career, I've had one patient that we knew was an extremely high risk, and it was an unfortunate situation, but they didn't wake up," he said.

"I think that's a fairly decent record," he concluded.

Stevenson disclosed that he hates to retire, but he does have some back issues and does not get around like he used to. He feels the need to travel and spend time with family and enjoy the rest of his life.

"It's not that I'm not capable of working anymore, I just think it's time to quit," he said.

Through his career, Stevenson learned, "no matter how tired you get, how disgusted you get, you have to go on because in my case, there was no one else to do it." -- - -- - -- - -- Ashley Ford -- @aford_news -- 469-517-1450


(c)2018 Waxahachie Daily Light, Texas

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