Dr. Augustson retiring from SSM Health Dean Medical Group

March 30, 2019

Dr. Michael Augustson is retiring from SSM Health Dean Medical Group after more than 30 years.

As a family medicine doctor, he said he’s been glad to work with all kinds of patients of all ages. His last day with patients was Thursday.

“I feel really grateful for the staff that I’ve worked with here,” Augustson said Friday. “I think all the people who work here really care for each other. Yesterday, we had a celebration for my last patient care day that was just really special. I’m also grateful for the patients that I’ve cared for, that have entrusted their lives to me and I just really appreciate that.”

One nurse passing by in the hallway said that she couldn’t believe it was really happening. On the wall outside Augustson’s office are cards and letters he’s received thanking him for his service and congratulating him on his retirement underneath the words “I feel GRATEFUL!”

Elizabeth Ruhland, who worked in the office with Augustson for the past few years, said she never saw Augustson get angry or lose his cool.

Ruhland said one of the things she’ll miss most about working with Augustson are his catchphrases, with his most frequent being “hot diggity dog,” often abbreviated to “HDD.”

Augustson started in the Chicago area but came to Beaver Dam in 1986 because he wanted to return to a small-town atmosphere after growing up in a small town in Michigan. He said one of the biggest changes he’s seen during his time with the hospital is the transition to digital records for patients, which really changes the way doctors practice.

He said the plan is to rest for a few weeks and then he would like to return to working in health care on a part-time basis, perhaps with churches.

With the Rev. Steve Polster, Augustson helped found Church Health Services in Beaver Dam, a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides health care services to the needy in the community. CHS originally started as a place for lower-income people to receive primary care, but Augustson said it has really shifted after the Affordable Care Act allowed many families to receive insurance for the first time.

CHS still provides basic medical care at walk-in clinics as it has moved to expand its services for dental care and mental health care, which remain difficult for families of lower means to obtain.

Bev Beal-Loeck, CHS community relations manager, said Augustson stays up to speed and continues to be invested in their work as a member of the board of directors.

For now, Augustson, who is 65, said nothing much else is on the agenda beyond enjoying the time off.