After working as an orthopedic surgeon in Little Falls, the time has come for Dr. Virgil Meyer, 71, to lay aside his instruments and pursue other interests. He will officially retire July 1.
However, retiring is easier said than done.
“It’s hard to let go. I really enjoy working,” he said. “But it’s time.”
Meyer, with three years of experience working as a family practitioner, founded Little Falls Orthopedics in August 1982 and through it, brought orthopedics to Little Falls and the surrounding communities.
For the first nine years, Little Falls Orthopedics had two clinics in Little Falls and Long Prairie. Since then, the practice has expanded to also include satellite clinics in Albany, Melrose, St. Cloud and Sauk Centre.
Two years later, Physician Assistant (PA-C) John Carpenter joined him.
“John was the first mid-level provider on staff here. He’s been instrumental in helping us maintain and grow the business. I owe a lot to John,” Meyer said.
Administrator Tracy VanHercke said that over the years many have observed Carpenter and Meyer working together.
“Everybody is always amazed at the way the two work together and communicate,” she said.
VanHercke said while people will usually ask verbally for something, when Carpenter and Meyer works together, it is as if they already know what the other needs or wants without even uttering one word.
“It’s amazing,” she said.
Carpenter will remain at Little Falls Orthopedics after Meyer retires, VanHercke said.
Looking back at his journey, Meyer said he has enjoyed helping people, fixing complicated problems and working with patients to improve their quality of life.
Although the orthopedic field has been challenging from time to time with its many advancements in techniques, procedures and improvements, Meyer said he has embraced and enjoyed it.
“The evolution of orthopedics has been enormous. It has gone from very basic to very sophisticated. As a doctor in that field, it has been fun to be a part of it,” he said.
Once retired, Meyer plans to hunt and fish more, play golf and travel to warmer climates in the southern states.
“I don’t have any particular one in mind. I want to explore them all,” he said.
He also plans to spend more time with his children Matthew, Michael and David and his seven grandchildren.
Meyer plans to continue making knives, a skill he learned many years ago.
“I had a fantastic mentor, Gary LeBlanc, here in town. He taught me a lot about it. It has been a fascinating hobby,” he said.
VanHercke said Meyer’s planned retirement is felt in the clinic. He has had an impact on all of them.
“I am really excited for him and his next chapter, but he will definitely be missed. There is no doubt,” she said. “Not only is he a skilled surgeon, that is huge, but just somebody everyone’s enjoyed working with and being around.”
One of the many impacts Meyer leaves is the culture of family he instilled among those working at the clinic. Although the clinic grew from only a few to 36 employees, including four orthopedic surgeons, five physician assistants, three physical therapists and two podiatrists, VanHercke said they feel like they are one large family.
“He has been a pillar in the community and campus-wide,” she said.
Meyer said he’s really enjoyed working with everyone over the years.
“We have a fantastic orthopedic team and it has been a pleasure to work with all of them. It has been like a very close family,” he said.
What inspired Meyer to seek a medical career was Little Falls family practitioner Dr. E.C. Goblirsch. He treated Meyer, a college student at the time, for a back injury and after discussing different things, encouraged Meyer to apply to medical school.
Meyer said after he graduated Little Falls Community High School in 1966, he went on to study at St. John’s University in Collegeville. He graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
He later graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Miss. in 1974.
Meyer completed his residency at Lansing General Hospital in Lansing, Mich. and an internship at Carson City Hospital in Carson City, Mich.