23 Oct From Dan’s Desk: Bringing care close to home
Dan Grigg, CEO, Harney County Health District
Several years ago, right before Christmas, I received a phone call that my parents had been in a terrible car accident and were both in the ICU in large Salt Lake City hospitals. They were living in southwestern Wyoming and traveling the 40 miles from their home to their doctor’s office over a mountain pass when their car hit black ice and spun into a guard rail. They were in critical condition and spent several months in the hospital. My father was never really the same again. I often wonder how their lives would have been different if their doctor’s appointment had been in their own town, and they had not needed to drive on icy roads 40 miles to get there.
Living here in Harney County, we are also subject to long drives on icy roads in the winter. This experience is never far from my mind, and we have made it one of our priorities to do all we can to recruit and retain highly-skilled general practitioners and to bring more specialty services to our community. I recognize that we will never provide every service that is available in larger cities, but the more we can safely do here, the better.
We have been fortunate to have a number of physicians from Bend who have supported us for years, including cancer physicians (oncologists) from St. Charles and orthopedic physicians from The Center. We had a gap in cardiology care after Bend Memorial Clinic stopped providing that service, but we are grateful to now have Dr. Sedehi, a cardiologist from St. Charles, coming here a couple of days per month. We also are grateful to have a strong pool of emergency room doctors who are committed to Harney District Hospital and your care.
Over this past year, Dr. Wisco, a dermatologist, has partnered with us to provide three days of dermatology care per month. He has also been trained to do Mohs procedures and helped us set up a Mohs program here in Burns. He loves coming here and is committed to providing dermatology care to eastern Oregon.
We have been successful in recruiting two full-time general surgeons who are living and working here (Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Reynolds), and we have a new OB/GYN (Dr. McNamara) who is providing women’s health care in our clinic two weeks per month.
I am especially pleased to announce a recent partnership we have entered into with The Center for Orthopedics in Bend. We have hired an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner (Brad Mangum) who has moved to Burns and is working full-time in our clinic. He has many years of experience treating orthopedic injuries and is now our primary orthopedic provider in town. He works very closely with Dr. Verheyden, Dr. Bollom and Dr. Hinz, three orthopedic surgeons from The Center who are long-time supporters of Harney County. As part of our new partnership with the Center, they have agreed to increase the time they spend in Burns and to do more surgeries here locally. We have already seen an increase in the number of patients getting their orthopedic care here and no longer having to make the long drive to Bend or Boise.
Patients will always have the choice of driving out of the county for their care, but we are committed to giving you as many options as possible to stay here and to bring the services of highly-trained and competent providers to you.