Dr. Allen Puts in a Busy Day As
Company Physician at AO

By Joseph C. Capillo
Of The Evening Gazette

Friday, June 16, 1972

1999 Photo above taken of Dr. Allen and former staff at "AO Roms Reunion"

SOUTHBRIDGE - Daily rounds for Dr. Roger E. Allen would take a week. He has 4,200 patients, all employees of American Optical Corp., in plants in four New England states.

Dr. Allen is AO's company physician. It's his job to supervise and operate one of the largest industrial in-house medical departments in New England, complete with nurses, X-ray department and research section.

He is completing 26 years as company doctor, during which time he has kept medical records on thousands of workers who have come to the firm.

Aside from duties at AO's main plant, he supervises medical programs in company branches in Keene, N.H., Putnam, Conn., Brattleboro, Vt., and Chelsea. Dr. Allen also holds licenses to practice medicine in Vermont, Maryland and Connecticut.
After college, medical school and three years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Dr. Allen returned home to begin his practice and, within a month, was working at AO.

Why Industry?

Why did he favor an industrial position rather than a private medical practice? "Well, I liked what was presented to me when I came down to talk with the AO people," said Dr. Allen, "Because it looked like a challenge and a chance to meet plenty of people."

"I like to think American Optical as a little town within a town. I've a great deal of respect for the AO worker," Dr. Allen said.
He said he tries to keep as many people as possible on the work force, "because a healthy worker is good for everybody."
The AO medical department, he says, works with area physicians, referring cases that demand additional or special care.
"If an illness is prolonged, we ask the worker to see his family doctor. We refer quite a few cases, but, then again, we treat quite a few here from the little cuts and bruises to fractures and X-rays," Dr. Allen said.

Assisting Dr. Allen is Fred J. Voltz, a registered X-ray and laboratory technician and a registered nurse, Mrs. Rita Moran, Mrs. Lilian Durfee and Miss Jane Mysliwiec, registered nurses, and Mrs. Dawn Blais, a medical records secretary.

The company's optometry department, headed by Dr. Cortland Richmond, an optometrist, also reports to Dr. Allen.
The new federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, which sets standards and regulations to protect the safety of the industrial worker, keeps Dr. Allen and his staff busy, "but the new regulations have helped to cut down injuries," he said.

Major Problems

"One of our major problems is diseases of the skin caused by certain chemicals used in manufacturing operations. And because we feel AO is the leader in the safety worker's world, we pride ourselves on making things right for the workers in our plants," Dr. Allen said. He said the federal regulations "are great for industrial medicine."

"The worker must abide by the rules and regulations, and the employer must see that the worker is protected. It works for both," he added. Dr. Allen's office must also keep close check on the hearing protection for employees and areas with more than 80 decibel readings require hearing guards. What sickness or illness does Dr. Allen treat the most at AO?
"No question, the flu bug and common colds," Dr. Allen said. His remedy consists of aspirin, fluids and plenty of bed rest.

A Shrewsbury native, Dr. Allen holds a bachelor's degree from University of Massachusetts and a medical degree from Tufts Medical School.

Aside from his medical duties at AO, Dr. Allen serves as a board of health member in Sturbridge, where he resides, and is currently working on a regional sanitary landfill project with neighboring Southbridge.

Hobby is Circuses

His hobby is the circus, and he spends a great deal of his summer time "chasing the circuses around." He is a member of the National Circus Association and charter member of the New England circus group.

He is married to the former Olive Guerin of Worcester.  If Dr. Allen has one regret, it's the fact that he never delivered a baby at American Optical. "You'd think after all these years, we'd have an emergency delivery and we've come close a few times but always managed to get the mother to the hospital," he said.

AO History

Return to AO Medical Page

Southbridge Page

Whitney Home Page