Dr. Pritham graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1966. He spent one year as a general surgery intern at Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, where he met Dr. David Bishop (well-known Family Medicine physician in Littleton), also interning at Mary Hitchcock at this time. In 1967, Dr. Pritham joined the Navy as a general medical officer, a post which he served for three years during the Vietnam War. While stationed at the naval base in Norfolk, VA, Dr. Pritham served as the ship physician on APA-44 which carried landing craft and marines for beach assaults. He spent six months on the USS Fremont in the Mediterranean and one month at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba during 1967-1970. In 1970 he returned to Mary Hitchcock to complete his four year General Surgery residency. Dr. Pritham joined the Littleton Hospital staff in 1974 as a result of a chance meeting with Dr. McDade at an American College of Surgeons conference in Chicago. Dr. McDade impressed Dr. Pritham and made him aware of the need for surgeons in Littleton. Dr. Pritham wanted to work in the country as he is an outdoors man. His grandfather, "Old Doc Pritham", who practiced in Greenville, Maine had a strong influence on the younger doctor. Dr. Pritham appreciated working with the seasoned physicians in Littleton, including Dr. Harry McDade, Dr. Frank Dudley, Dr. Charles Copenhaver, and Dr. Eugene McGregor. These medical men were the first to alert him of the concern about the unintentional changes that enactment of Medicare on July 30, 1965 would bring.
Dr. Pritham considers the heart of the hospital to be the many good people with whom he worked, including doctors, nurses, and others. He appreciated having a Surgical Grand Rounds program, where doctors could work together to discuss cases, ultimately benefiting their patients. He felt privileged to review each surgical case beforehand with such talented physicians, Dr. Ramesh Dave, pathologist, and Dr. Dale Childs, radiologist. Dr. Pritham established the Littleton Hospital Tumor Clinic in 1974 through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) program for early detection of breast cancer. His wife, Ellen, devoted much time to this project, working side by side with her husband as the Tumor Clinic Registrar. Dr. Pritham donated much of his own time to coordinate this program.
Some of the biggest changes in medicine during Dr. Pritham's career included developments in transportation and scientific discovery. The improved roads and the helicopter service provided life saving time transporting patients to regional medical centers quickly. For the general surgeon setting up a practice in the 1970s, the advent of subspecialties in surgery over the decades resulted in limiting what the general surgeon did (back in those days, the well-trained general surgeon performed all kinds of surgery, including thoracic, ENT, gynecological, C-sections, as well as abdominal surgery.
Dr. Pritham was totally dedicated to caring for his many patients. He learned a strong work ethic from his grandfather, "Old Doc Pritham". He fondly remembers being very connected to all members of the medical staff at Littleton Hospital. He also recalls the challenges resulting from the changing business models in healthcare, the trend for physicians becoming hospital employees and the resulting focus on productivity, and the advent of the electronic medical record.
There are several other doctors in the family, including Dr. Pritham's son Greg. Greg practices Urology in Bozeman, Montana. Also, his brother Robin practiced Family Medicine at Eastern Maine General Hospital (now known as Eastern Maine Medical Center). His wife, Ellen worked with him as a nurse at Littleton Hospital and spent many years volunteering time with the Littleton Hospital Auxiliary. She also ran Duck Soup, a successful Main Street Littleton specialty store in Parker's Marketplace, for many years. During retirement, Dr. Pritham enjoys working outdoors on his small farm, gardening, haying, and cutting firewood. He lies about fly fishing, catching his limit every time.
H. G. Pritham (personal communication, December 3, 2018)