Retired Dr. Roger Evans looks back on 44 years in Wentworth-Douglass NH
Dr. Roger Evans came to New England in 1978 to join a private urology practice in what he considered a small town – Dover.
And for six decades, he never left.
Little did Evans know at the time that he would end up spending his entire career on the medical staff at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, playing a key role in major changes at a growing hospital in a bustling area of Seacoast.
Evans retired as chairman of surgery at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital on June 30 after 44 years of serving patients on the coast.
“It just happened,” he said. “We moved here with two kids under 2, and had another two years later, I don’t think I looked up for 20 years, I was so busy.”
By the time Evans looked up, he had become one of the most important and influential doctors in Wentworth-Douglass’s 116-year history.
Evans has treated several generations of countless families across the coastline. And while her professionalism was always a constant, her trademark bow ties provided a welcome daily change.
“Always a gentleman, Dr. Evans is a model of respectful professional collaboration among and between the clinical and non-clinical members of our team and is always available when and where needed,” said Jeff Hughes, President and CEO. of Wentworth-Douglass. “His character is exemplary. He is always fair, has a great sense of humor, is a good listener and humble. Deep down, he’s still a champion and a voice of the patient and an advocate of “getting it right and always doing the right thing.” He is truly a “surgeon” surgeon.
Hughes said Evans was an aggressive advocate for the growth of surgical services, including thoracic, bariatric, vascular, gynecology, oncology and robotic surgeries. He was a founding member of the Surgical Steering Committee, the Surgical Executive Operations Committee, and was the head of surgical services during COVID-19 and through the challenges of sterile processing.
Evans said that while he hopes to have contributed to some of the hospital’s advancements, he believes the hospital has always been one step ahead.
“I think Wentworth-Douglass has always been a leader in the field in terms of medical care, but especially in terms of surgical care,” Evans said. “When I first came here, because I was in a surgical sub-specialty of urology, I covered several of the hospitals in the area. It was clear that Wentworth-Douglass was a bit ahead of the curve.
Outside of advances in medicine and technology, the biggest change Evans sees is community. He said Wentworth-Douglass has grown from a small community hospital to an acute care hospital caring for a larger and sicker population.
Care has become much more specialized and technical, and the hospital’s growth is responding to all these changes, he added.
“We’ve gotten bigger, busier, we’ve grown, it’s all pretty general for medicine,” he said.
The changing nature of the industry makes ongoing education and awareness of trends essential for medical staff and administrators, and Evans believes Wentworth-Douglass has always been proactive in these areas.
“While every hospital eventually talks about it, if you’re at the forefront it’s really helpful and I think it continues to attract this type of medical staff who want to be at the forefront of medical care, not only for surgery, but for medicine in all these things.
Evans is originally from New York and came to New England after serving in the US Air Force and completing his medical residency in Virginia. After joining a colleague in a private urology practice, he became a member of the hospital’s medical staff on July 15, 1978.
In 2007 Evans became an employee of Wentworth Health Partners working at Manchester Urology in Dover.
While at the hospital, Evans served on and led numerous medical, clinical, and executive committees. He was president of the medical staff from 1991 to 1994 and represented the hospital as an officer in the New Hampshire Chapter of American College of Surgeons for four years. He served as Chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1985 to 1987 and again since 2012.
In 1995, Evans was elected to the hospital’s board in that capacity until 2004. During his tenure on the board, he served as secretary to the board from 1995 to 1998, chairman of the board from 1998 to 2000 and has served on nearly every board committee. . In 2003, he was named Outstanding Administrator of the Year by the New Hampshire Hospital Association.
Evans said the decision to retire was not an easy one.
“I don’t know if there is ever a good time, but at some point it becomes time to let someone else take over,” he said. “It was a good race.”
Evans is expected to remain involved with the hospital in a limited capacity and is a trustee emeritus on the board.
Evans, who resides in Kittery, Maine, said he will use his retirement to spend more time with his wife Sandy and their family, which includes three children and three grandchildren.
Evans acknowledged that the hospital is currently going through another major change with its deeper integration into the Mass General Brigham system, which he says is another example of an evolving industry. In this case, hospitals join together to expand their resources and serve a growing population.
He said he’s confident the hospital can maintain the culture that makes it great.
“The attitude of the community in Wentworth-Douglass is very palpable,” he said. “People feel like part of the team and you feel the camaraderie throughout the organization.”