GEORGE WEST – Since 1987, Dr. Patricia Spiekerman has seen many smiles throughout the area as a dentist.
Dr. Spiekerman saw her first patient back in April 1987, Harry Hinton, which sparked her long-time presence in George West.
“I remember Mr. Hinton asking if I was working one day,” Dr. Spiekerman said. “He had a loose tooth and wanted it out, but I told him he needed antibiotics first. He huffed and puffed, but agreed and came back another time. He came back and after we gave him an anesthetic and asked his pain level he just wanted it out. He didn’t care about anything else other than getting that tooth out.”
With the impacts of COVID-19 affecting many different industries, Dr. Spierkerman felt it was time to step back and retire.
“We left in March and I told my staff I would pay them until I ran out of money,” Dr. Spiekerman said. “We were doing a lot of grunt work since March for the staff. We haven’t seen any patients other than a few since we closed. June first was the last day to complete payroll. COVID has drained any excess money and I ask myself if I really want to take a loan for the things I want to do when I retire.”
Over the years, many local families have sat in Dr. Spiekerman’s office chair.
“I’ve seen Sheriff Busby for a long as I can remember,” she laughed. “Most of my patients have been coming here for a long time. I’ve watched these kids get in my chair and they were little things, then come back filling up half of the chair. Then I see their children come in. There has never been a day that I dreaded going to work. I never scheduled two patients at once because I like to sit and talk to my patients and see what’s going on. I like to know who they are and what’s going on because I know them. George West is a wonderful town and I’m blessed to have been here.”
The success of the office is spread through its employees since 1987, Dr. Spiekerman said.
“Between the community and the employees it’s been wonderful,” she said. “When I first started, Barbara Bryce was amazing and a big part of my team. I pray for her now. Joy Lewis came on when we had a computer update and she worked through that and it took a lot of patience. Mary Appling has been with me for many years. If I answer the phone they ask for her. She did everything and was the absolute glue that kept this office running smoothly and proficiently. My assistant Libby Bruwer was my right-hand person. She made my job easier because she knew what I needed before I reached for it.”
So what does a dentist of 33 years in one town do after retiring?
“Dentistry is my life,” Dr. Spiekerman laughed. “I told my husband I would buy some tools for our garage. Dentistry is construction in a smaller scale process, so I might play with something like that. I told my husband I wanted to build a shed and he just gave me a look.”