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Island Doctor: An Ode To Ralph Earle
©2010 Army Armstrong Films, LLC
(62 minutes)

The year was 1937, and Ralph Porter Earle, a doctor fresh out of Hahnemann Medical College, set up practice in the island town of Vinalhaven, Maine. Although he loved the island, its year- round residents, and summer population, five years of being "paid mostly in blueberry pies, sacks of potatoes, and incredible amounts of good will" were factors in his decision to serve in the Medical Corps during World War II. He left in 1942, never expecting to return.

Persuaded by local townspeople, selectmen, and summer residents, Dr. Earle did come back. He practiced preventive medicine, and established a model for regional medicine. The Island's Community Medical Center, which he was instrumental in founding, is his legacy. In conjunction with the Vinalhaven Health Council, he conducted clinics for all ages: pre-natal care, well-child clinics, cardiac and weight control clinics, dental and tonsil clinics. He made house calls, delivered babies at home, and attended his patients during their last days. In his landmark study of mupltiple generations of islanders, many of whom could trace their ancestry back to the first white settlers in the 1790s, he established a higher-than-normal prevalence of diabetes in the permanent population. A doctor's doctor, Ralph Earle remained with his island practice until shortly before his death in 1975.

In the words of former patients, colleagues, and, above all, friends, the man who was "larger than life," the man "who could have been an actor, a writer," the man who was a 20th-century "Renaissance man" comes to life once more in these funny and moving stories about a fully human being.

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