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After thousands of babies, obstetrician cutting back

April 06, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Dr. George Manger remembers delivering his first baby - Vivian Smith's son, Bradley - on Oct. 2, 1975, as clearly as his last on Tuesday when he brought Crystal Blizzard's child into the world.

"In between, there were just over 6,000 babies," said the Hagerstown obstetrician/gynecologist, who recently pared down his nearly 30-year practice to gynecology alone.

While he has limited contact with some patients after delivery, others have stayed with him.

"In the case of Vivian Smith, I've had regular contact with her over the years," Manger said.

With his 62nd birthday just days away, Manger decided it was time to pull back a little, concentrating on the portion of his practice that has more regular hours.

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"I won't miss the 2 a.m. calls and then having to get up and work the next full day," Manger said.

He and his wife, Connie, also are looking forward to having weekends off and being able to take a real vacation.

"I like to play golf and travel, but before, I couldn't take more than two or three days off at a time," he said.

At first, Manger said, about 60 percent of his cases were obstetrics, but over the years, that ratio tipped toward more gynecological patients.

He said he will keep his six-person office staff.

The transition began seven months ago as Manger and his staff began turning away obstetrical cases. It was hard to do in some cases, especially when it involved families for whom he has delivered all of their children.

"I've delivered multigenerational births, at least one of which was a third generation," Manger said.

A graduate of Howard University Medical School, Manger interned and completed his residency in California.

Some trends in childbirth over the years Manger has observed include the growing popularity of the Caesarean section, which involves surgical removal of the baby rather than delivery by the natural method.

"Many women request the procedure now for a variety of reasons," he said.

With a Caesarean section, a birth can be scheduled rather than waiting for nature to take its course, he said. And there is less chance of complications.

"There is a joy and also a relief when a baby is born and is OK," Manger said.

Manger's practice originally was on East Antietam Street. He renovated an aging truck terminal on Mill Street in 1984 into his and several other medical offices.

"It's been a rewarding experience," Manger said. "The spirit is willing, but it's just time to slow down."

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