Medical recuitment successful
With the arrival this week of Dr. Craig Svoboda in Cambridge and the approaching arrival of Dr. Thomas Applegate in Benkelman, the number of MD's and DO's serving this area will reach one of the highest levels in a half century.
According to hospital and clinic personnel in the 12-county area, the two new doctors will boost the number of MD's and Osteopathic physicians in Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas to 29.
In addition, continuing a trend which started in the last part of the 20th Century, the Golden Plains region is served by 14 Physician Assistants-Certified (PA-C) and one Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (A-RNP).
Despite the improved medical coverage, the search goes on for additional physicians in McCook and the surrounding region. "We're actively recruiting," said Brian Rokusek, practice administrator for McCook Clinic. "We are in need of another medical practitioner immediately, and another in the next 6 to 12 months."
Recruiting is an on-going process, not only for McCook but for rural communities across the nation. So how did Tri-County Health System in Cambridge and Dundy County Hospital in Benkelman succeed in attracting the new doctors?
It was not for all the reasons you hear about -- things such as schools, lakes, golf courses and cultural opportunities. Those were considerations, but the main factor was that the communities of Benkelman and Cambridge offered a "good fit."
In the case of Dr. Svoboda, who began his practice in Cambridge Monday, the main attraction was returning to his Nebraska roots. He graduated from Schuyler High School and attended Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. But the more important factor was that he has relatives in both Cambridge and Harvard. He had practiced medicine in Illinois and Iowa for 15 years before accepting the call to the Cambridge community.
Nearby family is also an attraction for Dr. Applegate, who will be starting his medical service in Dundy County Aug. 1. He currently serves as an M.D. in Aurora, Minn., but wanted a rural practice closer to family members in the Denver area.
Family ties were also a consideration for Dr. Dan Farrell, an orthopedic surgeon who came back to his childhood home of McCook recently with his wife, Dr. Kathy Farrell, a pediatrician.
Could this be a trend? It appears so. That's good, because of all the reasons for attracting medical professionals, the best of all may be comfortable living, close to family, in a caring medical environment.