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Life dedicated to medicine

Fuhrmann retires in New London

By Robert Cloud

Dr. Donn Fuhrmann has lived in New London almost his entire life.


He was born at a New London community hospital in 1950 and lived in New London until he began attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968, first as an undergraduate, then as medical student.

He studied pediatrics in Australia for six months, then a three-year residency at St. Luke’s Aurora Hospital in Milwaukee.

Fuhrmann spoke about his life as a physician in New London during remarks at his recent ThedaCare retirement party.

“In 1979, Carlos Yu and I formed a partnership and started building the clinic next to the hospital on Algoma Street,” he said.

Fuhrmann and Yu shared the building, but had separate practices.

“I practiced alone for the first three years and was on call 24/7 for the emergency room, the hospital, obstetrics and the clinic,” Fuhrmann said. “We had no emergency room doctors back then. I delivered over 600 babies during my career.”

Fuhrmann began recruiting other doctors and they formed the first group practice in New London. Eventually, the practice joined ThedaCare.

“In the old days, we stayed at the office until all the patients were seen, sometimes seeing over 40 patients a day, and sometimes not getting home until after seven,” Fuhrmann said.

He noted that medicine has changed significantly over the years he has been in practice.

“I used to tell insurance companies what my patients needed and they always paid for procedures, medications and hospitalizations,” he said. “There were no prior authorizations, no denials, no pharmacies calling up asking for a different drug that was covered. Now, insurance companies tell me what I can do and what they will pay for. How did we ever let that happen?”

Medicine has also seen technological advancements that have helped improve the quality of health care, according to Fuhrmann.

“Two of my favorites are CT scans and MRIs,” he said. “They have greatly improved diagnostic accuracy and enhanced emergency room protocols.”

He noted that a CT scan can diagnose appendicitis in five minutes. Prior to CT scans, doctors were frequently wrong when diagnosing appendicitis.

“In 2023, we have over 19,000 FDA-approved medications compared to less than 1,000 in 1980 when I started practice,” Fuhrmann said. “Statin drugs have greatly improved cardiovascular health and reduced the number of heart attacks.”

In addition to his practice, Fuhrmann served 14 years as president of the hospital’s medical staff and five years as chair of Family Medicine at LaSalle Clinic. He has been a member of the New London hospital board, LaSalle Clinic Board and the Wisconsin Medical Society. He has also been president of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Practitioners and the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association and secretary-treasurer of the Waupaca County Medical society for more than 25 years.

“I’ve been medical director of four nursing homes in our area,” he said. “I have always loved my nursing home practice and taking care of geriatric patients.”
Fuhrmann told the New London Press Star that he “plans to stay around New London and be involved in the community.”

He noted that he and his wife have 10 children and 16 grandchildren and “there’s never a dull moment.”

When asked why he has remained so long in New London, Fuhrmann replied, “I like the people. I like the geography. I like the small-town environment and the Wolf River. It’s a wonderful community.”

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