Doctor's visit costs just $5 in Illinois town

(CBS News) RUSHVILLE, Ill. -- You often hear about the latest advances in medicine, but here's something completely different: a medical practice that hasn't changed much in more than half a century.

It works fine just the way it is.

Just off the town square of Rushville, Ill. -- population 3,300 -- is the office of Dr. Russell Dohner, age 87. He came to the town in 1955.

Dr. Russel Dohner of Rushville, Ill. still charges $5 per visit to anyone, regardless if they have insurance or not.
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"There was a doctor here by himself and so I came here, except all of a sudden he left," he says.

Dr. Dohner charged $2 a visit. He pushed it up to $3 in the '60s. Then, in a bow to inflation, raised it to $5 a few decades ago and left it there. Most of his income comes not from medicine but from his share in a family farm.

87-year-old Illinois doctor charges $5 per visit

He admits he digs into his own pocket sometimes to help people who need medical care.

"We'll be sure to take care of whatever comes," he says. "Always have, anyway."

His office is cluttered. Patients wait their turn. There are no appointments.

There are no computers either. No copiers. But there are lots of cards, rotary phones and his two 80-something assistants, Edie and Rose.

Many of the doctor's patients are unemployed and have no health insurance, but that's not a problem when they sprain an ankle or step on a nail, like Sue Engelbrecht did.

"We love him here," Engelbrecht said. "We don't know what we'd do without him. ... You get the best service. This man knows what he's doing."

He still makes house calls, and still makes his rounds at the local hospital.

Dohner doesn't remember the last time he took time off.

"If there's some things I can do for people, that's what I'm here for," he said.

It's his philosophy on life.

"That's always been the way it was," he said.

Was, is, and will be for as long as he can.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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