SHERIDAN — Dr. Michael Strahan’s retirement comes at a time when medicine in Sheridan looks much differently than it did when he started in the business in 1982. What started as a one-man job transformed into multi-faceted medical facilities throughout Sheridan.
At the start of his career, Strahan moved from patient to patient, often getting interrupted by one coming into the hospital unannounced. Patients remained with the same physicians for generations, and if a physician’s patient arrived at the practice or hospital unannounced, the physician would have to stop what he or she was doing and tend to the emergent needs. Now, Strahan said, physicians focus less on remaining with each patient, and likewise the patients may see a different doctor each time they visit. Strahan, though, saw generations go through his practice.
“You see patients and you take care of their parents, them, their kids and their grandkids and you know them from generation to generation,” Strahan said. “Nowadays you don’t even keep the same doctor from visit to visit.”
Strahan knows his patients well, making it a bittersweet goodbye.
“A lot of years, a lot of compassion,” Strahan said. “I like my patients; I like doing it.”
The dedication to his patients showed even through his team of coworkers at Strahan and Associates.
“He really cares about his patients and he goes over and above to care for them,” longtime colleague Marty Harker said.
Harker has worked with Strahan for 35 years and will retire alongside the well-known physician. Harker also recognized the change in medical care in today’s world and how doctors are less likely to remain as committed to their patients as Strahan demonstrated throughout his 36 years in the business. He met with patients all hours of the day and night and checked on hospitalized patients twice daily. His favorite practice, though, was in geriatrics.
“I think they’re fun,” Strahan said. “I think they’re funny.”
Strahan served in a multitude of positions and directed much of what the medical community is today. He served as a director of ambulances, the hospitalist program, the first paramedic course in the state and Sheridan Manor for 30 years and was Sheridan County health officer for about the same number of years and a Sheridan Memorial Hospital board member for 10 years.
The longevity of his involvement in Sheridan’s medical community translated into Strahan’s personal practice, where a majority of his staff worked alongside him for 20 years or more.
“He has just been a great boss,” Harker said. “You can’t find somebody else like him.”
Strahan’s fast-paced lifestyle will slow down a bit, but he will keep busy with his four other businesses: Wolf Mountain Coal, partial ownership in Black Tooth Brewing Company, haying near the airport and a ranchette complete with horses and a cabin. Golfing will also weave into his retirement days.
“I like to stay busy and I have fun doing whatever I do,” Strahan said. “I like to tell people I have fun in the parking lot. I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding (things to do). Enjoying life is not a difficult thing for me to do.”
Fellow colleague and friend Sy Thickman told Strahan he was the “last of the dinosaurs” in the Sheridan medical field. Strahan experienced much and impacted many and will be missed by his patients and colleagues. The man who helped establish essential aspects of Sheridan’s medical community will leave the scene in different — better, according to most — shape than how he found it.