Striking a Balance

Bill Kumler, BHS ‘86 and his wife, Ellen, chose to settle down a few years ago in the Cambridge area of Ohio, for the slower pace, the chance to coach their kids and be more involved in their daily lives, and to live closer to Bill’s aging parents.  Bill, an orthopedic surgeon, and Ellen, a pediatrician, are both employed by Southeastern Med, a regional hospital affiliated with Ohio Health. 

Little did Bill and Ellen know how important that decision would become. Their children, ranging from high school through college age, are currently staying with Bill’s dad, Karl Kumler, BHS Class of 1959, at the family farm while Bill and Ellen are at the hospital everyday.  “It was an easy decision, said Bill, “the kids help with daily care and activities and are sheltered from any exposures.” 

Like many Bexley alumni turned physicians, Bill fondly remembers science teachers like Mr. Logsdon, Mr. Tatman and Mr. Smith, but also appreciates the benefit of the well-rounded education offered at Bexley.  It was in the drafting class taught by Pat Beveridge that he learned to draw and recognize how to triangulate between 2nd and 3rd degree perspectives, a skill he uses regularly as a surgeon. 

Until recently, Bill was busy as the sole orthopedic surgeon in an area that covers the lower Eastern part of the state reaching all the way to West Virginia. That all changed with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a month now since Bill performed his last elective surgery, and although his practice has temporarily diminished, he still cares for patients with fractures and urgent surgical needs. The hospital has pivoted to a no waiting room model where patients wait in their cars, or they can have a telehealth visit from the parking lot.  “We are fortunate that there have been only 15 known COVID-infected patients in the area with only one hospitalization and no deaths to date.  People are afraid to come to the hospital, so telehealth has been an amazing option.” 

As a physician trained in the HIV era, Bill learned early on about exposure and the importance of following sterile procedures. He and Ellen practice measures to keep their home safe, including changing out of their work clothes at the end of each day. Like so many other medical professionals, they are trying to strike a balance between keeping themselves and their families safe, while doing what they love — serving others and their communities.