ROCKPORT — Jim Curtis, M.D., has been appointed chief of emergency medicine by the Penobscot Bay Medical Center board of trustees. Curtis will assume the responsibilities previously held by Ted Schettler, M.D., including oversight of the hospital’s emergency room. Schettler is retiring from his hospital work after 10 years in the emergency room.
“I like the variety of medicine in the emergency room,” said Curtis. “There’s never a dull moment, and if there is, it quickly passes.” Curtis joined the PBMC medical staff as an emergency room physician in July 1987.
Before moving to the midcoast, he was a resident in family practice at a hospital in Augusta. Curtis graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1984.
According to Curtis, “Working in the emergency room allows me to be on the front lines, actively working to help people, triaging their problems and getting them to the appropriate care.”
His commitment extends beyond the hospital. As medical control director for Region 6 of the State Emergency Medical Service, Curtis also is involved in prehospital care.
“I see the field as an extension of the emergency room,” said Curtis, “and our cooperation with ambulance crews is crucial to successful outcomes. We’re fortunate in this area to have more and more paramedics joining the ranks, and their presence makes a big difference in the level of care. In the recent past I can think of at least two cases where the presence of paramedics working in conjunction with the emergency room were able to save their patient’s life. Without them on the scene, both people probably would have died.”
As a medical control director, Curtis participates in the Physicians Advisory Board to the Emergency Medical Service Board in Augusta. That group sets protocols and standards of care relative to what ambulance crews can do when responding to emergencies. They recently completed a booklet titled “Prehospital Treatment Protocols” which guides both emergency room physicians and ambulance crews in determining appropriate responses in the field.
Working with Curtis in the PBMC emergency room is a large and varied group. Fellow emergency room physicians are Jim Kilgour, Karen Young, Bill Zwartjes, Steve Moore and Curtis Smith. Rounding out the staff are 25 nurses, five control technicians and four volunteers who help keep the department open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“Last year we treated over 19,000 visits to the emergency room,” said Curtis. Curtis lives in Camden with his wife, Gayle, and their two children, Lauren and Colin.