South Shore Medical Center Celebrates 60 Years of Caring for the Community

South Shore Medical Clinic sign
An original sign for the South Shore Medical Clinic, which opened March 24, 1962 at 75 Washington St. in Norwell.

Sixty years ago this week, an innovative group medical practice, known then as the South Shore Medical Clinic, opened its doors at 75 Washington Street in Norwell.  

Watch our 60th anniversary video

At a time when most doctors had solo practices, founding physicians – Frederick Freidman,  Donald Garland, Arthur Garceau, Gerald Collins, and Wallace Kemp and Administrator Betty Allen – joined together to create an integrated group practice committed to providing comprehensive quality patient care.

Five founding physicians of South Shore Medical Clinic
Frederick Freidman, MD, Donald Garland, MD, Arthur Garceau MD, Gerald Collins, MD, and Wallace Kemp, MD, are the "founding fathers" of SSMC. At a time when most medical practices were solo, these five physicians created an innovative, integrated group practice better equipped to provide comprehensive, quality patient care.

This new, ahead-of-its-time practice, included general practitioners and specialists all working together, sharing resources, equipment and medical staff.

Six decades later and with offices in Norwell, Kingston, Quincy and Weymouth, South Shore Medical Center has grown to include a staff of more than 100 board certified physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, working together and continuing the legacy of providing quality, comprehensive healthcare to more than 50,000 patients across the South Shore.

As our anniversary approached, we asked patients to help mark the milestone by sharing fond Medical Center memories or experiences they had through the years. 

Here’s what some of them had to say:

SSMC building under construction in 1961
The South Shore Medical Clinic under construction in 1961 on Washington Street in Norwell.

The Medical Center's founders -- Dr. Arthur Garceau and his colleagues -- were true visionaries, and their clinical and administrative leadership established a remarkable foundation for quality outpatient medical care in the region. Congratulations to those who continue their legacy.

More than forty years ago, I had asked for an urgent care appointment due to some concern which now eludes me.  However, the care I received on that visit and the man who offered it have stayed a pleasant memory.  During the appointment, Dr. Garceau had impressed me with his concern, his care, and his lovely manner.  He answered all my questions, was very clear on what would alleviate the issue, and was so gentle and considerate that I asked him if I could have him as my primary care doctor.  He calmly and with such dignity responded by telling me that as much as he wished he could take on that task, it was impossible. “My dear, I only see elderly patients and you are simply not old enough yet.” I was in my early 30s.

Nurses on a lunch break
Nurses enjoy an al fresco lunch during earlier days at SSMC.

I will never forget the reassurance and support the pediatrics department provided my daughter, who was 12, and strong and extremely fearful of needles, and needed a flu shot.

I have so many stories. Dr. Minor and Dr. Cox are two of my favorite people ever. But one story I’d like to share is when I called the nursing line because I thought I’d have to go to the hospital. No one was home to watch my children. And I got really nervous. The nurse was so sweet. It worked out, and it turned out I only needed a visit. But the nurse didn’t know and called me back a few hours later to check in. When I told her everything was fine, she said “oh good, I was worried about you.” I realized she didn’t need to call me back. She was just genuinely wanting to check on me. It was so sweet.

Cat on a desk wearing a stethoscope.
Did someone order a cat scan? Bobby, SSMC's feline mascot in the early 1980s, ready to see his next patient.

Dr. Kemp stitched me up there after my finger was squashed between two logs in 1978. He was also a family friend and a great man.

I had the good fortune and pleasure of having Dr. Robert Zeller as my obstetrician and gynecologist.  He was always kind, supportive, and informative and importantly willing to listen and take seriously to what I had to say.  I was appreciative that he made the time to patiently explain and to reassure any concerns I had. 

Old South Shore Medical Center building
The first South Shore Medical Center building at 75 Washington St. in Norwell.

I love how someone is always available to answer a question and how nice, helpful and caring everyone has been to me. Having everything in one place (doctors, lab, x-ray etc.) is so convenient and they are open anytime I need to go. Everyone at SSMC rocks! Happy 60th birthday! 

A few words on SSMC’s longtime and beloved CEO, Betty Allen:

SSMC Administrator Betty Allen with a model skeleton
Administrator Betty Allen has some fun posing with the model skeleton hanging in Dr. Robert Mayo's office. Allen was SSMC's first CEO and served the practice for 35 years.

She was an amazing lady! She loved having dinner and her wine at the 99 in Rockland! I loved waiting on her, so nice.

A true feminist! Totally dedicated to her employees!

She gave me my start. She cared about people. She once paid an employee out of her own salary while the employee was out months recovering from surgery so the employee could keep her health insurance.

Betty knew the names of everyone in my family!

Only good memories of Betty. Happy 60th SSMC. Loved my years working there!

She was excellent! Any time my husband had a question regarding the billing, or anything medical center related, he would contact Mrs. Allen. Because she always knew the answer!

Remember her well. Lots of funny memories. She was one of a kind! (And that skeleton too.)