NORRIDGEWOCK — There was no backup plan needed when Ken Baker as a young boy began charting his path to becoming a doctor.

Dr. Ken Baker confers Tuesday with patient Wayne Meunier during Meunier’s annual checkup at Baker’s office on Main Street in Norridgewock. Baker plans to retire in July, after a 43-year career in medicine. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

A native of Fort Kent, Baker’s aspirations to work in the medical field were driven as a child by an uncle he admired who was a family physician. Baker would go on to earn degrees from Bowdoin College in Brunswick and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“Medicine is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was 5 years old,” Baker said. “There was never a plan B. It’s a large part of my identity that I am going to miss.”

After more than four decades treating patients, Baker is preparing to retire from the private practice he launched as a 26-year-old on Main Street in Norridgewock.

Also moving into retirement is Ginny Sirois, the office manager for the practice who was with Baker when the practice opened in July 1979.

Sirois had been working at a nearby hospital at the time and wanted more contact and interaction with patients.


“I saw an ad in the newspaper and applied, and it’s been forward and straight ahead since,” Sirois said. “When I interviewed with him, I remember saying, ‘I’m going to open the doors and I’m going to close yours doors.'”

Her collaboration with Baker has proven rewarding.

“It’s been wonderful,” Sirois said. “This is not a job. Every day it’s a new experience. It’s an eye-opener. I get to meet the public. I get to meet the families, the grandparents, the parents, the kids. The list goes on and on.”

Baker, 69, has cared for thousands of central Maine residents and multiple generations of families, including five generations of one family.

“We both decided it’s time (to retire),” he said. “The climate is getting less kind to solo private practitioners (because) everything is corporate.”

The demands of owning a private practice, he said, can be much more cumbersome than at larger, corporate-owned practices.


“They don’t have to worry whether the driveway is plowed out, if the steps are clear of snow, if the bills are paid,” Baker said. “It’s all taken care of.”

Much else has changed, too, he said.

“Patients have become much more sophisticated and I think that plays a greater role in their health care,” Baker said. “People are more internet savvy. They’re more aware of specialists in Maine who have special expertise. They’re more likely to seek out a referral to see a specialist.”

Dr. Ken Baker takes the blood pressure Tuesday of Wayne Meunier during Meunier’s annual checkup at Baker’s office on Main Street in Norridgewock. Baker, who has seen Meunier as a patient for 30 years, is planning to retire in July, after a 43-year medical career. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

There is no plan for another doctor or medical group to take over Baker’s practice when it closes upon his retirement in July.

Baker’s appreciation for central Maine stems from 23 summers working at Pine Tree Camp in Rome. It was there he met Mary — the woman he would marry — in the early 1970s. They were married at the camp in the summer of 1979, the same summer Baker opened his practice.

During those summers, Baker lived at the camp and worked as the camp physician, while building his patient list. He has also been a part of the medical staffs at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan and Waterville Osteopathic Hospital, now Northern Light Inland Hospital, Good Will-Hinckley School and the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta.

Dr. Ken Baker and his longtime office manager, Ginny Sirois, have worked together for 43 years. They are shown Tuesday outside Baker’s office on Main Street in Norridgewock. Baker has announced he will retire in July. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

After retiring, Baker is planning a trip this fall to Australia to visit family. He said he also hopes to spend time this summer working on earning his private glider’s license.

He also is looking to do volunteer work in Africa.

“This has been a privilege not everybody gets,” Baker said. “I’ve been a part of (patients’) lives for decades, and have been able to see multiple generations of a family. I’m going to miss that. I probably won’t miss the responsibility that goes along with all of this. It’s time for somebody else to take on the responsibility.”

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