Ever fancied working in Bermuda? George Ringer did it for 31 years

2021 07 01 21 41 6926 Bermuda Horseshoe Bay 400

It's always intriguing to read about someone whom you never met, and then to realize that had you met, you would have been great friends. Such a man was Dr. Adrian "George" Ringer, who died on 13 June 2021 at the age of 86.

George was born in Slough, England, and was educated at Birmingham University, subsequently moving to Liverpool and beginning his career in radiology. He obtained a Fellowship of the Faculty of Radiologists (FFR) at the Royal College of Surgeons (which later became the Royal College of Radiologists in 1975).

Dr. Adrian 'George' Ringer.Dr. Adrian "George" Ringer.

In 1969, George moved to Bermuda, where he enjoyed a 31-year career as a radiologist at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH). This was an interesting time for radiology because the 1970s was a time of significant technological innovation.

During his time at KEMH, he assisted in bringing much of this new technology in radiology to the people of Bermuda. The first MRI scanner arrived at the hospital in 2002 and came in a prefabricated building. They had to lift the building off the ship and onto the dock. It was put on a trailer and transported to the hospital. The department is now modern and all digital.

The first official Royal Visit to Bermuda was in 1920 when Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (who was briefly King Edward VIII) concluded his tour of the British Empire, and one of his official duties was the opening of the KEMH on its present Paget location. The KEMH had major changes whilst George was on the staff. In 1965, the year before he arrived, the KEMH second major building was completed.

In the year following his appointment, the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) was established, a specialist agency of the Bermuda Government, bringing together the KEMH and the St. Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital (now called the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute) under one governing body. In 1971 a Rehabilitation Unit was opened at KEMH.

In 1998, additions were made to the KEMH. They included a new surgical wing, new emergency ward, hospice, intensive care unit, pharmacy, and incorporated increased space for many departments. The complex continues today, and in 2015 the new wing, constructed at the same Paget location, opened.

Professionally, George is remembered as being an intelligent, well-qualified, dedicated, and highly respected radiologist. He inspired great affection, and a nurse who worked with him knew him as "Uncle Ringer." A medical colleague and friend was inspired to join the staff of the KEMH following a meeting with George in Toronto in the 1980s. A nurse who worked as a volunteer with George in x-ray for 15 years recalled that he knew of her special interest in anything medical and would take her into his office and explain the details of any unusual images. She very much enjoyed and appreciated this "tutoring."

Welcome to Bermuda sign

George was a good judge of character, as shown by the career of Venetta Symonds, who retired in 2020 as CEO of the BHB.

She started work at the KEMH as a 17-year-old summer student and worked as a filing clerk in the radiology department. She became interested in radiography and won a BHB scholarship obtaining an associate degree. The scholarship was only for two years, but when she passed her board examinations with high commendation, she decided to study for a bachelor's degree. However, the scholarship committee said Venetta was already qualified, and they wanted her to start work right away. A committee member asked her if she wanted to come back and be CEO.

The committee agreed to pay for an extra two years at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, and subsequently, she started work as a certified radiology technologist in 1980. She was promoted to manager in the radiology department in 1998, after George, who was then the head of the department, said if she could keep hospital administrators off his back, the job was hers -- this seems a good reason for her appointment! She became CEO in 2012 after six years in the deputy CEO role, which included an eight-month stint as acting CEO in 2006.

Throughout his life, George loved being near the water, and like many radiologists, he was an avid photographer -- capturing his travels and his growing family. When he retired, he began spending his summers in Newport, Rhode Island, enjoying the view of the harbor and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

Dr. Adrian Thomas. Image courtesy of the BIR.Dr. Adrian Thomas. Image courtesy of the BIR.

George is survived by his wife Paula Ringer of Newport, his children, and grandchildren. He will be fondly remembered by those whose lives he touched so profoundly. If you knew George and want to make a memorial donation, these may be made to the Lifespan Cancer Institute, Development Office, PO Box H, Providence, RI 02901, U.S. You can read his obituary on legacy.com.

Dr. Adrian Thomas is chairman of the International Society for the History of Radiology and honorary historian at the British Institute of Radiology.

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