For the last six months, Dr. David Little has been saying goodbye to patients from his 42-year career in internal medicine.
But he hasn’t just been bidding farewell to numbers on a chart. Many of his patients have built a relationship with him over decades.
“A lot of patients have been seeing me for 20, 30, even 40 years,” Little said. “I’ll miss talking with them about their lives and that friendship. It’s been hard for me to say goodbye to them.”
Turning 70 at the end of the month, he decided it was time to retire. He and his wife of 49 years, Marje, will be relocating to a suburb in Chicago to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
“We want to spend a little more time with our grandchildren,” he said.
Marje’s mother still lives in Nebraska so they will come back to visit, but they wanted to relocate to be nearer to one child and within driving distance of another. Little also will get to golf, read, ski and cook more.
Six months ago, Little sent out a letter to his patients explaining that he was retiring at the end of July. He tried to meet with each one to make a plan for continued care, either by another physician at Hastings Internal Medicine or another doctor.
What he didn’t anticipate was to be leaving the practice he helped build in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
“I was not expecting to go out with a pandemic like this,” he said. “It’s been an interesting four months for sure.”
Little also has been helping in the process of recruiting a doctor to replace him at Hastings Internal Medicine Associates, which he founded with Dr. Bill Hervert in 1978.
Little and his wife both were from this part of the state and went to high school in Grand Island. Little said he was happy to stay in the state after obtaining his medical license. He likes the state and both he and his wife had family in the area.
Little earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his medical degree at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in Omaha. He completed his internal medicine residency at UNMC with Hervert.
At that time, Hastings was looking for physicians at the time, recruiting Little and Hervert among others between 1976 and 1980. Little said the group of recruits had a great professional relationship and camaraderie.
The Hastings Medical Park, 2115 N. Kansas Ave., was in the planning stage when Little moved to the city. It opened in the summer of 1980 with Little and Hervert teaming up as one of the initial tenants.
By 1992, they had expanded the practice to add new partners. The practice now is home to six doctors and a physician’s assistant.
“They were good additions to our practice and the city,” Little said.
Major changes occurred over the decades in the medical industry. Many changes were due to the Medicare system, which was only 13 years old when Little started his practice. Another major change was to computerization and the data that the government and insurance companies want.
Little said it has been tricky to maintain a balance of keeping up with the changes but not take time away from patients.
In addition to his practice, Little served on board of directors for Nebraska Medical Association for six years and was elected to speaker for an additional six years. He served as Medical Chief of Staff and a member of the Board of Trustees for Mary Lanning Hospital in 1997-98. He served many years on Mary Lanning Quality Improvement Committee.
“Over the years, the hospital has been a tremendous asset to us,” he said. “Hastings is fortunate to have the hospital we have for a community this size.”
Outside the medical field, Little served three terms on the Church Council for First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. He was a volunteer coach for baseball, volleyball and basketball. He served as co-chair of the United Way drive and is an honorary board member.