Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Dr. Myron L. McEachern

Everyone knew to call Dr. McEachern when a snake bit

TAMPA — They called him the Snake Doctor.

"If you had a patient who had been bitten by a snake, there was no question that he was the person to call," said family practitioner David Lubin of Tampa.

In his career, Dr. Myron McEachern treated hundreds of snakebite victims, often for little pay. He also made house calls, drove a Mercury Cougar until it wore out and charged ridiculously low prices.

Dr. McEachern continued to make house calls into his 80s. In 2005, he moved to Alabama to an assisted living facility. He died Friday at age 92.

"He did what physicians are supposed to do — care for people," said Rose Ferlita, a Hillsborough County commissioner and former pharmacist, who often referred customers to Dr. McEachern.

Dr. McEachern spent his early years in Georgia. When he was 8, his father died in a car crash. He missed a year of school, the result of laissez-faire parenting by an uncle.

Another uncle, Dr. James McEachern of Tampa, took him in the following year. Myron entered the third grade in Gorrie Elementary School far behind other students. But by the end of the year he had surpassed them.

At Emory University, he leaped ahead of classmates, entering medical school two years early. He started his practice in downtown Tampa in 1943.

A turning point came in the 1940s at St. Joseph's Hospital.

A young man had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Dr. McEachern had given the recommended small dose of antivenin. Conventional medicine said too much would kill the patient.

Seeing that the situation was dire, Dr. McEachern tried a different strategy. He loaded the man with vial after vial of antivenin — nearly 30 times as much as the protocols recommended.

"Considering what had been done in the past, it was a massive dose," said his daughter, Dixie McEachern Bergquist, who holds a nursing degree.

The man recovered.

Dr. McEachern became the physician of choice in the area to handle snakebite injuries, often to impecunious patients who left gifts of flowers or food. One man even paid his bill with fish eggs.

"It's a funny thing," he told a reporter in 1988. "Snakes never bite people with money."

In the early 1950s, he built a yellow brick office on South Boulevard with a fireplace in the waiting room. Among the conversation pieces was a jar of formaldehyde, containing a snake that had bitten one of his patients.

When a diabetic man of modest means entered her pharmacy with a badly infected leg, an alarmed Ferlita sent the man to Dr. McEachern, with cash.

A week later, she received a note from Dr. McEachern.

"Rose, we took care of him," the note read. "It was a pleasure."

Enclosed was her money.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (813) 661-2431 or [email protected]

.Biography

Dr. Myron L. McEachern

Born: Jan. 6, 1916.

Died: Oct. 17, 2008.

Survivors: daughters Melinda McEachern Mathews and Dixie McEachern Bergquist; seven grandchildren; one great-grandson; numerous nieces and nephews.

Everyone knew to call Dr. McEachern when a snake bit 10/23/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 2:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: DOT listens, adjusts on I-275 plans in Tampa

    Editorials

    Florida continues to improve its plan for modernizing the interstate system in Tampa Bay. The Florida Department of Transportation has unveiled four new options for rebuilding I-275 near downtown Tampa, and some of them would ditch previous plans for toll lanes downtown while keeping express lanes for faster, …

    State officials are re-evaluating parts of I-4 and I-275 in Tampa as part of a supplemental environmental impact study, or SEIS. 
  2. College basketball scandal dips into Tampa Bay

    Preps

    Tuesday's national college basketball scandal has recruiting ties to Tampa Bay.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  3. Datz to open in St. Petersburg, join the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

    Food & Dining

    Now Datz news.

    Get it? Tuesday, Datz, the longtime line-out-the-door, oft-Instagrammed and -Yelped Tampa stalwart known for shock-and-awe sandwiches and oh-so-much bacon, announced it is coming to St. Petersburg.

    Lunch guest eat at Datz Deli at 2616 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Times files.
  4. Republican leader McConnell pulls the plug on latest Obamacare repeal effort

    WASHINGTON --- Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday officially pulled the plug on the latest plan to repeal the health care law, telling senators they will not vote on the measure and effectively admitting defeat in the last-gasp drive to fulfill a core promise of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, after the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary. DeVos was approved by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) DCSA119
  5. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]