The next time you’re down in the basement of BMH, maybe heading to the Maple View Cafe for lunch, stop and say hello to Chris Appleton, DO, who along with Dr. Bill Doyle runs the hospital’s pathology department and laboratory services. Being a pathologist means spending a lot of time analyzing tissue and blood samples, so Chris is always happy for the opportunity to look up from the microscope and have a friendly chat.
Chris describes the pathologist’s role as being “the doctor’s doctor” because he works with a multitude of specialists, as well as primary care providers. His training as an osteopath allows him to have a holistic view of all types of patient cases that come his way, and ensures that he never forgets that the human is never too far away from the sample.
“It’s not all cut and dry when it comes to diagnosing and treating a cancer, for example. You have to think about the people too,” Chris says. “Even though we’re working on these machines and we’re doing chemistry and things like that. That little tube is a patient.”
It was hard for Chris to give up seeing patients following his residency at University of Arizona, Arizona Health Sciences Center. Initially, he had enrolled at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine with the notion that he would be a family physician. But ultimately the love for biology, chemistry and other hard sciences he developed in high school won out. By his third year in medical school, he knew he was destined for life in the laboratory.
Still, he sought out social opportunities within the profession he chose. He found it by getting involved with the Development Committee at BMH and learning about the various fundraising projects and campaigns that reach out to the Brattleboro community he and his wife, Edie, had grown to love.
“One of the things that’s delighted me is how much of a part of the community that the hospital considers itself, and how much a part of the community that the people of Brattleboro consider the hospital,” says Chris. He adds that both his daughter, Tara, and son, William, cultivated a love of music thanks in large part to the music department at Brattleboro Union High School and the Brattleboro Music Center.
In addition to his own giving, Chris is now heading up the Physician Campaign. His role as the “doctor’s doctor,” makes him a familiar face to area physicians. He says he loves meeting with them and sharing stories, and he tries to relate how their annual contribution will be used by BMH and its direct benefit for the patients the physicians serve.
“There are people who live in the outlying towns who would have no access to medical care if we weren’t here,” Chris says. “The people who are running this hospital are interested in doing what you need to do business-wise to keep it operating, but it’s not like that’s the first priority. Basically, I’m doing it because I believe in this place.”