Dr. Robert Gramann has lived in Washington state his entire life save for the seven to eight years he worked toward his medical degree at Creighton University Medical School in Omaha, Neb. And he's never been to Walla Walla.
So post retirement -- this is his last week at Enumclaw Medical Center -- he's headed with his wife to the eastern Washington town famous for its sweet onions and more recently, wineries.
"I haven't been anywhere in the state," he said Thursdsay in a phone call with Patch. Not Leavenworth, not Walla Walla, Long Beach or the North Cascade Highway.
The travel restriction was a necessity during his 36-year career in Enumclaw. Gramann was Enumclaw's only full-time obstetrician when he started his practice here in 1976. Some of the family doctors did deliveries, but the result of that distinction was "I needed to be around all the time," he said. "That takes a toll ... but it was gratifying to be able to be there for all those moms when they expected you to. I've enjoyed being a part of their families."
How many families, exactly, is hard to say but Gramann estimates he's delivered between 5,000 to 5,500 babies in that time.
Not that numbers matter, but why not aim for 6,000? "People just know when it's time, and I just turned 65," he said. "It's been great and it's just the right time for me to step aside and spend more time with my wife and family."
On this his last week, Gramann had been scheduled to do a Caesarean section Friday, but the baby decided to come early, so his baby delivering days have officially come to an end.
Reflecting on his career, it's understandable that in spite of so many happy births, its the outcomes that weren't perfect that linger in his mind. "Those are the things that still break your heart," he said. But in the last months as his patients have come to learn of his retirement plans, "I've received an awful lot of people telling me how much they've appreciated me, and that's really touching."
"It's been an extremely gratifying experience to practice in Enumclaw," he said. "I have a set of wonderful associates in the medical clinic and wonderful nurses who help me in the office and in the hospital, and so many really great patients. It's been a very gratifying experience to take care of so many really nice people."
The community is invited to today, Thursday, June 28 at 2 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Hospital.