Roger Giroux was invited to join a number of group practices when he re-entered the field of medicine roughly 15 years ago, but that just isn’t his style. “A solo doc is a different breed,” said the lone physician at Brookside Family Health Center in Hinesburg. “In some practices, the group is so large and they are so busy that patients don’t really know which one is their doctor. Most of my patients consider me their friend. They call me by my first name and I can recognize most of their voices over the phone.”
Giroux is a third-generation, lifelong resident of Hinesburg. His uncle was the fire chief and he joined the Rescue Squad at the age of 16. He stayed with the squad until halfway through medical school when time constraints interfered. Giroux never expected to be a doctor. His father had dropped out of high school and Giroux helped him with his contracting work, but he soon found his calling.
After graduating from CVU and UVM he was accepted to Ivy League medical schools but decided to stay close to home. “I couldn’t tear myself away from Vermont,” he said. “When you have a good thing, why would you go live in a city somewhere? I’m a small town guy.”
Giroux started his first Hinesburg practice in 1990, overseeing the construction of the building while training at a clinic in Milton. The timing coincided with the retirement of Dr. Louis Wainer, who recommended the new doctor to his patients. In 1997 Giroux’s career took a detour. “I thought I invented day trading,” he said wryly. “I was going to be rich and stay home with the kids.” The second part of that plan worked out as Giroux coached his children’s athletic teams and chaired the Hinesburg Cub Scouts but the riches eluded him. “After ten years of losing my shirt I decided to go back to what I was good at,” he said.
Following two years of retraining, Giroux hung up his shingle again. “I was asked to join other practices,” he said “but in my heart I knew I was a solo doc. I’m not a nine-to-five punch-the-clock guy. It wouldn’t be a good fit for me.” Giroux prides himself on responding to calls at all hours of the night and never keeping patients waiting. “I practice medicine differently than if I worked in a conglomerate,” he said. “I’ve missed Christmases and Thanksgivings because someone needed stitches from carving up their turkey.”
Although Brookside Family Health Center’s hours are officially 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, Giroux said he is always available for his clients. “I’m on call seven days a week,” he said. “Every other year I take a vacation but I feel guilty when I go and I try to connect with the office when I’m gone.”
As a solo practitioner, Giroux is in charge of the business aspect of his office as well as patient care. “I’m a dinosaur,” he said, “but I take responsibility for the welfare of my patients and my town, and that makes me feel good.”