N. Patrick Hale, M.D, has served as an Ophthalmologist and Consultant in the FSDB Health Care Center since November 1974.
Dr. Hale was invited to join the staff by the then President of the school, Dr. William McClure. He and his wife visited St. Augustine and met Dr. McClure at a luncheon at the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge, hosted by Flagler Hospital. Dr. Charles Grace had been the Ophthalmologist for the school until poor health made it necessary for him to retire. Dr. Hale recalled, "I met Dr. Grace, and he encouraged me to take that position and begin the practice of Ophthalmology in St. Augustine." Dr. Hale and his wife relocated from California and the rest is history.
Dr. Hale visits the school weekly to see students scheduled for routine screening exams and those with eye problems. "Over the years, we have had many fine helpers and assistants," said Dr. Hale.
"I have always been impressed with the quality of the personnel at the school. They make my work much easier with scheduling and the deaf language assistance for the students who are deaf or hard of hearing."
Dr. Hale graduated from Prescott High School in Prescott, Arkansas, in 1958 and began his college years at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He majored in Business Administration, receiving a BSBA degree.
In his senior year, Dr. Hale changed his major to Pre-Medicine. He took Chemistry, Physics, and Biology courses, getting the requirements to get into medical school. After graduating, he transferred to Little Rock University. He worked at the Arkansas State Hospital as an orderly during that year, which helped pay for his room and board.
He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Arkansas in May of 1967. He began a one-year rotating internship receiving training in Pediatrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Emergency medicine at the Tampa General Hospital.
He passed the Florida exams for a medical license and worked in the St. Joseph Hospital Emergency Room in Tampa, Florida for a short time.
He had a two-year military obligation and was called to active duty in the U.S. Army in August 1968 and was promoted to Captain.
Dr. Hale received Basic Medical Officer training in San Antonio, Texas and Aviation Medical Officer training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama.
In November 1968, he served in Vietnam as the Battalion Surgeon for the 11th Combat Aviation Battalion at Phu Loi RVN., a few miles north of Saigon. It was an interesting year with various experiences, lots of flying as a medic and observer, avoiding injuries and taking care of patients, both military and civilians.
The highlight of his year was in June when he took a 7-day rest and recovery to Hawaii to meet his fiance, Sue Sinks. The two had met years before on a blind date when Dr. Hale was in medical school and became engaged before being sent overseas. They would marry at the Ft. DeRussy Chapel in Honolulu, Hawaii. In June, they will celebrate being married 53 years!
On returning from overseas, Dr. Hale was assigned to the Ft. Carson Hospital Medical staff in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was honorably discharged from active duty with the Army in August 1970.
Dr. Hale stay in the Army reserve and later in the Florida National Guard as an Ophthalmologist and Flight Surgeon. Some of his summer Army duty included training at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco, Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. and with the Navy in Puerto Rico.
When he finally retired from the Army Medical Corps, he had 37 years of total service, including active, reserve and national guard. He retired with a rank of full Colonel, O-6.
In August 1970, Dr. Hale began the Ophthalmology training at Stanford in Palo Alto, California. He was a resident in Ophthalmology for three years, then spent a year on the clinical faculty in the Ophthalmology Department at the Stanford Hospital and at the Palo Alto VA Hospital.
He taught beginning residents eye surgery and did a research project on corneal refractive eye surgery. He spent part of that time in San Francisco with a Corneal Surgeon, Dr. Max Fine, in his office and learned corneal transplant surgery at the St. Francis Hospital. He later would do the first combined corneal transplant and intraocular lens implant operation at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine.
He moved to St. Augustine in the fall of 1974 from California and began his practice of Ophthalmology. After over 40 years, Dr. Hale retired from the Eye Center of St. Augustine in 2014.
He continues working part-time at FSDB and doing medical exams for the FAA as a Senior Aviation Medical Examiner, which he has done since 1973. Dr. Hale enjoys flying his airplane, which he became interested in during his time in the Army. He has an instrument rating, multi-engine rating, commercial rating, and a seaplane rating. He enjoys going to airshows and traveling with his wife.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school in historic St. Augustine, available to eligible pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired or deafblind. The FSDB experience gives students the edge to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. Early intervention and outreach services are also available throughout the state of Florida. Private donations help to support programs that directly benefit students which are not covered by state funds. To inquire about enrollment, contact Parent Services at 904-827-2212 or 904-201-4527 VP. To schedule a campus tour, contact Outreach Services at bit.ly/fsdbtours. For more information, visit fsdbk12.org.