Lexington, Ky.

Horse capital of the world

Live & Practice | Winter 2015


Bratton Family

A day at the Kentucky Horse Park is one way Robert Bratton, M.D., and his family enjoy life in the Bluegrass State.

There may be only one American city that can credit its growth and prosperity to the color of its grass.

In fact, the Lexington area has a “triple threat” of benefits, as University of Kentucky animal and food sciences professor Laurie Lawrence explains. “A limestone-based soil [produces] pasture grasses high in a balance of calcium and phosphorus that provides an almost perfect amount of [nutrition] for growing horses,” she says. “The climate is very amenable to grasses that do well, and we have a long growing season. Horses can live outside for a longer period of the year. The terrain is very rolling, so they can get a lot of good exercise running up and down the hills.”

Horses at fence

Lexington’s home to more than 150 horse farms.

Currently there are 450 dedicated farms in the region, including 150 in Lexington/Fayette County. (The two governmental entities were consolidated in 1974.) Their offspring join the world’s best race competitors and become preferred stallions in many another setting.

Today, Lexington’s Keeneland Association track is where some of the world’s best Thoroughbreds run for the money. “We also get the best jockeys,” says communications associate Amy Owens. She cites the biggest fall race, the million-dollar Shadwell Turf Mile, won in 2014 by Wise Dan, whose prize accumulation of $7.5 million made him the USA Horse of the Year. Many millions of dollars also change hands four times a year when Keeneland hosts the world’s leading Thoroughbred auction, attracting buyers from all 50 states and 50 countries.

Horse-related events crowd the local calendar and visitors are welcome to tour several horse farms, including one for retired champions and their brethren. But the year-round champion of equine attractions has to be the Kentucky Horse Park, a 1,224-acre horse “theme park” that’s home to 42 breeds.

Keeneland Race Track

Keeneland Race Track is where thoroughbreds come to both race and go to auction.

For Robert Bratton, M.D., a top-of-the-list family activity starts at the horse park on a Sunday afternoon. “You get a big bucket of chicken and a blanket, and you go out and watch them play polo,” he says. For the park itself, that’s only the beginning. Among visitor attractions are daily presentations of several breeds, horse-drawn tours and carriage rides, horseback and pony rides, three museums, an art gallery, the Hall of Champions Barn, steeplechase events, cross-country competitions and specialized breed shows.

Bratton, who practices urgent care and family medicine, is chief medical officer at the Lexington Clinic, Central Kentucky’s oldest and largest group practice, with more than 30 area locations and some 225 primary and specialty care providers. A Lexington native, Bratton earned his medical degree at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, then moved on to Rochester, Minnesota, for his Mayo Clinic residency, then to Jacksonville, Florida, for 14 years.

The Paddock at Keeneland

Sales at Keeneland have included 83 Breeders’ Cup World Championship and 19 Kentucky Derby winners.

Then the Mayo leadership tapped him to chair the family medicine department at its Scottsdale, Arizona, location. He’s been back on “home ground” since 2008. “As you grow older,” he says, “you appreciate your family and your hometown. So when this job became available, I applied for the position, and from there I was coming back to Lexington.”

“It has been a good move for my family,” he adds. “I have two teenage kids who are finishing up in school, and they thoroughly enjoy it.” Although his daughter and son are in private schools, “mostly because it was more or less a cultural thing for them,” Bratton notes that his years in public schools were very happy, and that Lexington is fortunate to have some outstanding schools.

The city itself did not stand still during his absence. He has been especially gratified at “a lot of changes downtown.” Vintage buildings are undergoing renovations, especially the centrally located Victorian Square (aka The Square), and new restaurants are springing up.

Among new crowd-attracting events is Thursday Night Live, when restaurants bring tables outdoors and the area blossoms with music by local talent. A neighborhood restaurant boom started in 2012 with the renovation of an old factory. The city now boasts several new eateries, including Country Club, cited one of the best 15 new U.S. restaurants. Bratton’s continuing favorite, though, is a vintage-house-turned-restaurant, the Merrick Inn.

More than a hundred city parks, with six golf courses and a 12,000-square-foot skateboarding park, await those in search of healthy outdoor pursuits. With 11 miles of hiking trails, the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary combines recreational possibilities with scenic beauty. It runs along the Kentucky River Palisades.

The city’s history is also alive and well. Four vintage homes are open to visitors, including Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay, the city’s most famous citizen and long-time 1800s U.S. Senate leader.

Culture lovers enjoy the Lexington Philharmonic, the Kentucky Ballet Theater, Broadway road shows, traditional opera—and the Troubadour Concert Series featuring blues, jazz and folk music.

Some events take place at the University of Kentucky, not to mention the ever-popular games of the Wildcats, “the winningest program in college basketball history.” “Everybody lives for basketball around here,” says Bratton, but he adds, “We finally have a football team we can be proud of, too.”

Not to be forgotten is the state’s unique brand of spirits, which has spawned a Bourbon Trail incorporating several Lexington-area facilities. The hugely profitable distilling operations are part of a state economy that has grown by the proverbial leaps and bounds, including the Lexington-area mix that includes divisions of Xerox, Toyota and Lockheed Martin. A Jif Peanut Butter plant churns out more of its yummy product than any other factory in the world, and Lexmark International, a 1991 IBM spinoff, manufactures printers and related equipment. Its worldwide headquarters are in Lexington.

Not least in the mix is UK with 14,000 employees, plus some 7,000 at UK HealthCare, its medical complex, which includes a trio of sectors covering research, education and clinical care and includes UK Chandler Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital and Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Among Good Samaritan’s notable services is the state’s second largest orthopaedic and joint replacement program.

Baptist Health Lexington provides some of the region’s most advanced facilities, technology and capabilities, including in heart disease and cancer care. Physicians also help companies set up educational programs matching specific company needs.

KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 health care facilities in Kentucky and southern Indiana, including two Lexington hospitals, Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East. Their cardiology, orthopedics and stroke care programs have received national recognition. Three major hospitals in Louisville are among the mix, and leaders are proud of the fact that Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages are part of the mix.

Meanwhile, back in equine territory, Bratton says he’s probably as enthusiastic about the magnificent breeds as any of his fellow Lexingtonians, but he’s also well aware of the outlandish expense of owning one. Instead, he and his wife are proud owners of ponies and a mule. He says: “They’re a lot cheaper than a Thoroughbred.”




Water, water—almost everywhere

Live & Practice | Winter 2015


Minneapolis skyline

The Minneapolis skyline shines over the Mississippi River. The city is home to five Fortune 500 companies.

It’s a freezing cold weekday in Minneapolis, and hardy Upper Midwesterners are on their way to work—on bikes.

This American city has been cited 27th in the country for the highest percentage of two-wheel commuters, and also the U.S.’ most bikeable city.

Cold, warm or in-between, parks spokesperson Dawn Summers notes, “There are people who do it all the time.”

Ramsey Peterson, M.D., adds to the above statistic himself, biking to work occasionally. Peterson, his wife and two young children live just south of the big city, and he practices family medicine at Allina Health Richfield Clinic, which is about a mile and a half from his house. “Every day, we’re out walking around in the neighborhood or biking up and down (nearby) pathways,” he says.

“From our house we can see a creek that runs from one of the farthest west suburbs all the way to the Mississippi River. There’s also a huge park that runs right through Minneapolis.”

In addition to biking, the city’s list of kudos can fill a page or more. Many are related to healthy living, such as a best city for walking, most athletic town, number-one park system and, shared with St. Paul, its twin city across the Mississippi River, America’s fittest city. Other noted pluses: top in U.S. for volunteering, Top Tech City, third most literate city and, noted by Forbes magazine, the world’s fifth cleanest city.

Five of the city’s companies are among the Fortune 500, including Target Corporation, the U.S.’ second largest discount retailer (after Walmart).

In recent years, the city’s downtown area has undergone dramatic changes. The new look includes buildings by avant-garde architects, but, most recently, the spurt has widened to luxury downtown condos and apartment buildings, plus a new football stadium for the Vikings. Comments spokesperson Kristen Montag at Meet Minneapolis (CVB), “There are a lot of cranes in the air right now.”

As in most cities, hospitals are major players both in health care and employment. Allina Health, Peterson’s employer, owns or operates 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics in the state and western Wisconsin. The former Abbott Northwestern Hospital is part of the group and, under various names, dates back to 1882. In 1940, Sister Elizabeth Kenny chose Minneapolis as the site to train U.S. health providers in her revolutionary polio treatment regimen. Her rehab institute was located at the then Northwestern Hospital. The name Allina was adopted in 2012. Recently added treatment offerings include an alternative medicine department, music therapy and a voice clinic that includes videostraboscopy, a technique involving insertion of a strobe light into the throat to create slow-motion pictures of vocal chords in action.

The University of Minnesota Medical Center and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital are components of University of Minnesota Health and also represent a consolidation of health care facilities under the aegis of Fairview Health Services.

Another area provider, Hennepin County Medical Center, dating to 1887, has added a discipline assembling a team of medical interpreters and physician specialists to treat deaf immigrants who haven’t learned English.

Peterson notes that both nearby Northfield and Maadi, Egypt, are his hometowns. “My mom is Egyptian,” he says, “so that was pretty influential in my childhood, and I attended middle school there. I’m a dual citizen, but I take after my father.” By the time he got to high school, the family had settled in Northfield, where his mother was a sociology professor at St. Olaf College. His connection to the college is strong: He and his wife, Anna, are St. Olaf graduates, and they’ve named their son and daughter Soren and Signe. “We thought we should choose Norwegian names for them so they’ll fit in when they go to St. Olaf,” he jokes.

Peterson earned his medical degree in a University of Minnesota program split between Minneapolis and Duluth, where he was in a program focused on primary care, then completed two residencies—one in St. Paul and the other with Allina.

Although there was no opening as such at the Allina clinic of his choice, “a couple of doctors who saw value in me took me on.” He eventually became a full-time associate, not to mention a nearly full-time participant in “back office” activities, as well as committees with the Allina organization, which he praises for its inclusion of medical professionals in decision-making operations.

He praises his own clinic as well. “I think we’re very progressive. We do a lot of internal education that Allina doesn’t ask us to do. We also run our own ‘educational hour’ once a month, and we do our own chart review.” But his unending personal satisfaction comes from developing long-lasting relationships with patients. “I enjoy treating entire families,” he says. “That is what I am trained to do.”

Peterson and his family welcome winter with open arms. The city also more than satisfies appetites for sports and culture. The city supports teams in all four major league sports, while hosting cultural blockbusters such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Fall Fine Arts Show, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Walker Art Center. The Guthrie Theater, with three stages, is a nationally renowned drama center, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival is the U.S.’ largest non-juried performing arts festival.

With 520 stores, 50 restaurants and the country’s largest indoor theme park, there’s also the Mall of America —the country’s largest retail and entertainment complex.

To demonstrate its continuing support for good, old-fashioned camaraderie, the city offers six summer “neighborhood friendship” celebrations titled the Open Streets Event. It’s a chance for residents to schmooze and enjoy walking and biking, while kids are encouraged to play in the streets the old-fashioned way.

Says Doug Kress, the city’s development services director: “It’s exciting to see Minneapolis continue to grow. It’s a testament that we are a city where people want to live, work and play.”



St. Petersburg, Florida

Water, water—truly everywhere

Live & Practice | Winter 2015


Sean Pavone

The St. Petersburg Municipal Marina is a great place to spend the area’s 361 sunny days a year.

With its location near the bottom of a peninsula dangling from Florida’s west coast, it’s no surprise that St. Petersburg might claim a bit of identity with poet Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s ancient mariner, who saw “water, water everywhere.” The same is true about the state’s fifth largest city, but with the addition of another phrase: “Beaches, beaches everywhere.”

Along a 35-mile stretch, beaches dot barrier islands, aka keys, doing double duty, if needed, as protectors from major storm damage. One, Clearwater Beach, is consistently noted as a top beach in the state. The island mix includes a surprising number of nature preserves and wildlife refuges, not to mention parks for human recreation.

In an interesting paradox, says Leroy Bridges at the visitors bureau, “Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in Florida, but it has more than 20,000 acres of parks and preserves.” He adds, “We’ve done a good job of carving out these sanctuaries.”

With its irresistible warm climate, seemingly endless sunshine and long shorelines with the finest of sands, the city continues to attract newcomers. The sun doesn’t let them down. In fact, current statistics note an average of 361 shiny days per year.

Today, St. Pete is in a phase that chamber of commerce CEO Chris Steinocher labels its creative renaissance. “It started with artists moving in and creating funky studios,” he says. Then it became a groundswell. The innovative strain now seems to be everywhere, with public art enhancing the streets, including more than 50 murals on buildings. There are dozens of art galleries, plus the spectacular Salvador Dali Museum. Dale Chihuly, the amazing glass artist, visited the city, was captivated and, for the first time, agreed to install a collection of his works in a new museum. The arts proliferation is nowhere more evident that at Grand Central, the arts and entertainment district two miles west of downtown.

Back on the city scene, five new craft breweries are adding to an employment scene that includes thousands of workers at companies headquartered in the area, including Home Shopping Network, direct marketing firm Valpak, and Jabil, which manufactures products for computer companies.

New restaurants have opened, especially near the waterfront, which also hosts several parks and, says Bridges, the city has been “building and building and building.” But historic neighborhoods are also being revitalized.

However, with the median age of residents now under 40, Bridges notes, “There’s no shortage of events and entertainment (in the area).”

Dr. Altaf Anga and family

Altaf Anga, M.D., and his family recently relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, from Pennsylvania. “It’s beautiful,” he says. “My plan is to explore all the beaches.”

City action notwithstanding, Altaf Anga, M.D., is a committed beach aficionado. “I wanted to get nice weather year round, so I could get outside,” is his explanation for moving to St. Petersburg. But it was a roundabout route, starting in his home country of India. He had finished 11th grade when he arrived in the Philadelphia area. His only knowledge of English was the alphabet. He persevered and finished his senior year, then went on to Temple University and to its medical school.

After five years as a hospitalist with Bryn Mawr Family Practice and somewhat influenced by family members in the St. Petersburg area, he headed south.

Recently relocated, he is now a member of the Bayfront Health Medical Group. The physician practice is owned by Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (BHSP), which is the flagship hospital of a network that includes six other hospitals along the Gulf Coast. Among Bayfront’s most notable services, reports spokesperson Sawsan Jaber, are its accredited Level IV Epilepsy Center, surgical grid capabilities, and its Wound Care and Hyperbarics Center. It is well known in the area for its helicopter services covering eighteen counties.

BHSP is conveniently located next door to All Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Another player in the St. Petersburg health scene is BayCare Health System, with more than 200 access points in the Tampa Bay area.

In St. Petersburg, BayCare’s St. Anthony’s Hospital has served the community for 80 years, and, according to its web site, remains “one of the most technologically advanced medical facilities.” It has recently undergone more than $30 million of improvements, and has a new Emergency Center and Patient Care Tower. For more than 30 years, athletes have come together for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. More than 3,000 competitors are expected this year.

Still a newcomer in the area, Anga has not had time for much recreational travel. But he, his wife and 7-year-old daughter have enjoyed Clearwater Beach. “It’s beautiful,” he says. “My plan is to explore all the beaches.” He’s also a bicycler, but hasn’t gotten into boating yet. He adds: “The weekend is mostly a fun time, and, so far, we’ve been to Orlando (about 100 miles east) three or four times.”

As for his current livelihood, he’s pleased that his employer is “one of the best. When I came for the interview I didn’t feel any pressure, and now everybody has been nice and welcoming.”



Sidney, Nebraska

A growing Nebraska town

Live & Practice | Winter 2015



The annual Gold Rush Days celebrates Sidney’s role in the rush to the Black Hills goldfields in the late 1800’s.

More than 50 years ago, a young man in Nebraska advertised hand-tied fishing flies, 12 for a dollar, in a nearby newspaper. He got one bite. In an “if at first you don’t succeed” mindset, Dick Cabela changed his modus operandi to a “FREE Introductory Offer: five for 25 cents” in national outdoor magazines. Soon, orders from across the country were jamming his mailbox. In each shipment, he mailed a mimeographed catalog of other items he and his wife, Mary, had added to their product line. His brother, Jim, joined in.

Many American sports enthusiasts know where it went from there. The kitchen table business now occupies a 250,000-square-foot building in Sidney with 2,100 employees on site (and growing), plus thousands in its current 64 stores. Cabela’s produces almost a hundred different catalogs a year and manufactures many of its own items. Its stores include education centers and wildlife museums. And every new store opening means another 20 to 30 new “back office” employees in Sidney, according to city manager Gary Person.

Sidney is also home or a base of operations for at least 12 major employers, including warehouse, trucking and rail operations, as well as a branch of the world’s largest birdseed manufacturer, Pennington Seed, and now a branch of the Bell Lumber & Pole Company, America’s largest utility pole manufacturer. Some of these operations are housed at a 23,000-square-foot industrial park. Person also reports that $300 million worth of new community-benefiting construction is underway.

The industries have resulted in throngs of hungry workers, not to mention visiting business representatives and travelers taking time off from their drives along nearby I-80. So far, 28 restaurants and cafés are ready to accommodate them.

Sidney Cheyenne County Fair

The Cheyenne County Fair and Rodeo entertains families each summer.

Person notes that Sidney’s population has grown almost 20 percent since 2000 to its current 7,500, but the influx of area day workers translates to a daytime number more like 15,000. “This reflects a community much larger than (the population suggests),” he adds. “Sidney is an extraordinary community with a lot going on.” Still, in keeping with its small-town image, a central gathering area, Hickory Street Square, is undergoing a $1.2 million facelift to enhance its ability to act as a public area for outdoor events. In addition, the Cheyenne County Community Center is a recreational sports hub with programs for both kids and adults.

The health care community has also taken note of the population surge.

A new $53 million Sidney Regional Medical Center complex, with adjacent physician clinic and administrative buildings, is due to open soon. The new structure will maintain the same bed number (25) as its predecessor, and continue to serve a seven-county area. The current medical staff consists of a general surgeon, urologist, four family practitioners, some 20 visiting specialists and six physician assistants. But more are coming—and more will be needed, according to recruiter Janell Wicht. “With so many new young families,” she notes, “we’ll also need more OB/GYNs.”

Calvin Cutright, M.D., a family practitioner with the medical center’s Physicians Clinic and a seasoned member of the community, summarizes the rising population phenomenon this way: “As far as Nebraska is concerned, Sidney is one of the few small towns in the U.S. that is growing rapidly—and growing younger at the same time.” The main reason, of course, is the expanding job market.

Cutright was born in Bakersfield, California, but arrived in Sidney with his family when he was 11. Aside from studying at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, training at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln and a two-year hiatus in Japan as an Air Force physician, he’s chosen to stay in a town he considers perfect for his needs and those of his family. That includes high-quality schools.

Besides academics, Sidney High School also incorporates instrumental and vocal music and has 20 student clubs focused in such areas as drama, art, auto, chess and mock trials. Nine sports are part of the mix, including football, basketball, volleyball and golf. Thanks to the influx of jobs, the school system’s 1,300-plus students include newcomers—students and teachers—from all over the country, according to Superintendent Jay Ehler. He also say that almost 80 percent of Sidney graduates go on to college. One is conveniently located—a branch of Western Nebraska Community College.

As for its seemingly remote geography, the city, as Cutright points out, is not exactly isolated.

Cabelas Water Tower

Cabela’s headquarters employs 2,100 in support of its 64 stores nationwide.

Founded in 1867 by the Union Pacific Railroad as a stop along its westbound route and named for Sidney Dillon, a company attorney, the new outpost soon hosted an Army fort built to protect the rail workers. Settlers began arriving. Among Union Pacific services was a northbound route to the Black Hills gold fields and the feisty town of Deadwood. Today the railroad is used by companies like Bell Lumber & Pole. The city is also at the confluence of four major highways: I-80, one state and two U.S. routes. For serious medical cases, Denver hospitals are about 150 miles west, and the big city is a major venue for serious culture, major league sports and sophisticated dining.

Cutright points out that serious skiers can be in heaven on the Rocky Mountain slopes near Denver. Hunting and fishing opportunities abound closer to home.

When all is said and done, Wicht, the hospital recruiter, has a simple summary for today’s life in Sidney: “We’re a small town in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Nebraska—but the town still has that Cabela’s spirit! When my doctor candidates come to visit, they can’t believe how friendly everybody is. It’s ‘Leave it to Beaver’ here, and at the same time it’s progressive.”



Eastern Indiana: Richmond

Where Indiana and Ohio Meet

By Eileen Lockwood | Live & Practice | Spring 2015


Erica Kretchman and Family

Erica Kretchman, D.O., was inclined to practice in her home state of Michigan. She has degrees from Michigan State University, with medical training at Des Moines University followed by training and internship in Mount Clemens, Michigan.

“But when I signed on for PracticeLink,” she explains, “Amy Powell (an in-house physician recruiter at Reid Hospital in Richmond, Indiana) was the first person to contact me—almost immediately. This area was outside -my-box thinking, but I went down for what was going to be a practice interview.” The rest of the story: “She really sold me on the job, the opportunity and the area.” In 2012, Kretchman became the first endocrinologist to practice at Reid Hospital. Since then she has added a nurse practitioner and is seeking another specialist.

The hospital, opened in 1905, was named in honor of the deceased wife and son of wealthy industrialist Daniel G. Reid. A total remake came to pass with a new facility that opened in 2008 and now has a 217-bed capacity, plus numerous satellite locations. Reid’s total service area covers some 280,000 people in seven Indiana and Ohio counties. “We’re pretty unique,” says Powell. “We’re in a more rural setting, but our hospital is not typical of a rural area.” Among its kudos, in 2015 it was ranked among the best U.S. facilities for infection control by the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

The Kretchman Family

The city itself dates to 1805 when some 300 Quakers from North and South Carolina began arriving in search of a place with cheap, fertile land for farming where slavery was prohibited. As nearby towns also grew, Quaker meeting houses sprouted around the county, as well as a boarding school that became today’s Earlham College. In the 1920s, the city became the “cradle of recorded jazz,” attracting musicians in the next three decades including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Tommy Dorsey.

As for the modern-day medical scene, Kretchman says, “I was somewhat nervous about coming into an area that had never had an endocrinologist and not knowing how busy my practice would be. But they promised to do some research” to determine the potential. It was given a thumbs up.

“They were right on with their prediction,” she says. “As soon as I got here, the patients were waiting. People were intimidated about going to Indianapolis, so a lot of the initial cases I was seeing were ones who had always wanted to be local.” The possibilities were also encouraging, thanks to a city population of some 36,000 and a total of 130,000 in the nearby communities.

She and her husband, Jason, have discovered more and more reasons for enjoying their new hometown, including many activities for their daughter, 5, and son, 3.

Centerville, Indiana

Thanks to the local YMCA and the parks and recreation department, their daughter especially is able to participate in sports at a very young age. There are dance clinics and teams, plus other arts opportunities, especially at the library with its almost-constant array of programs. Kretchman enthusiastically describes lively characters showing up at the Story Book Café in the city, as well as at various stores, and in the summer, there are more experiences along the city’s fairy trail.

For big-city getaways, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Dayton are no more than an hour-and-a-half away. “But here it’s perfect,” she notes, “because they’re without the perpetual crowds, which means no waiting in line for an eternity to enjoy rides, and there’s no worry about losing the little ones.”

There’s also the appeal of much lower housing prices, as opposed to their last location in the Detroit area, not to mention lower taxes—and ease of getting around. “We’re never more than 10 minutes away from anything in this town,” Kretchman says.



Southwestern North Dakota: Dickinson

Oil, prosperity and a doubled population

By Eileen Lockwood | Live & Practice | Spring 2015


Oil Pump

Oil brought a population boom to Dickinson, North Dakota, where 10 new hotels, two strip malls, and new restaurants, schools and housing developments aim to keep up with the demand.

This location in Southwestern North Dakota is a kind of poster boy for the philosophy “If you build it, they will come.” But in Dickinson, the quote should be: “If they come, you will build it.” The oil rush created by development along the southern edge of the Bakken Formation has meant that the near-multitudes began arriving before the building was in progress. By most standards, the city is currently the fastest-growing in America.

In 1970, the population of this town in far western North Dakota was 12,405. It went up gradually to 17,785 in 2010. Now, according to Shawn Kessel at city hall, several projections have it in the 40,000 to 45,000 range by 2020. With the fastest-growing age group between 25 and 29, the need for housing, schools, grocery stores, shops and medical care has also grown exponentially. One example: The annual number of births at CHI St. Joseph’s Health has increased from 328 in 2007 to 611 in 2014. Other patient growth helped provide incentive for a new $100 million hospital that opened in December.

But determined leaders—and residents—are working hard to accommodate the influx in many other ways, too. So far, they seem to be succeeding. Among other changes so far, according to Kessel: Two elementary schools have been enlarged. One new school soon was filled and was expanded a year later. A new middle school is on its way in 2017. Ten new hotels, two strip malls and an increasing number of restaurants add to the mix.

The need for housing seems almost ceaseless, and he notes that “homes are going up like crazy.” At the Chamber of Commerce, executive director Cooper Whitman worries about the speed of construction and says, “Housing is a struggle.” Currently, rent for two-bedroom apartments is $2,000 a month, for instance. But he adds cheerfully, “We have a lot of families, but this is one of the nicest communities in North Dakota.”

“We have also invested in quality of life since 2004,” Kessel says. He cites the new West River Community Center, noting, “We didn’t just build a box. We built it to be architecturally significant.” And it, too, has been expanded. “It was originally designed for 1,700 members. Now there are 7,000.” There are more playgrounds, baseball and soccer fields, plus planned additions to the trail system around nearby Patterson Lake, complete with a nesting area for birds, with two towers for observing them.

Plans are in action for a downtown city square, and airport expansion is already well underway. This is where Daniel Sheps, D.O., chimes in. “Usually,” he says, “you get on a flight from a small town that’s almost empty, but not here. United and Delta jets are almost always packed.”

Sheps signed on as a hospitalist with CHI St. Joseph’s two years ago. His educational background includes the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine, followed by residency in St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, N.J.


South Dakota’s Western culture carries over to its wildlife —including wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“I wanted to go to a rural area,” he says. He has also found that work hours are much less frenetic. And he believes that patients find it reassuring to be cared for by the same hospitalist during their entire stay. “Typically,’ he says, “I’ll admit the patients, I’ll see them every day, and then I’ll discharge them so they have the same doctor.”

Among other hospital serendipities is a community-built recreation center complete with pool, tennis courts, walking track and play area for kids. An ice rink is across the street.

The pluses continue, including the convenience of walking to work. “In New Jersey,” Sheps continues, “there are toll roads everywhere and parking is outrageous. In Dickinson, I can walk one block over from my home and be at the hospital. There are absolutely no commuting costs—or time.”

Dickinson is located along I-94, which runs across the state from Fargo in the east to central Montana. But, oil and population increases notwithstanding, the area still breathes the wide-open Western culture. “There are a lot of rodeos and bull riding,” notes Terri Thiel at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A January must-go-to event is the North Dakota Coyote Classic. For archeologist wannabes, there’s a dinosaur museum, plus popular fossil digs in nearby locations.

North Dakota’s settler origins began in earnest after the Homestead Act of 1862 offered 160 acres of free land to any farmer who moved there and cultivated his plot.

Besides Americans, early immigrant arrivals came from England, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Ukraine and Czechoslovakia. The culture of the latter three, including festivals, food and the arts, remains strong.

But the most fun today, says Whitman at the Chamber of Commerce, is “seeing all kinds of people (and from as far away as) even Ghana and The Congo.”



West Central Pennsylvania: Clearfield

Dynamic county, small city

By Eileen Lockwood | Live & Practice | Spring 2015


Clearfield, PA

The Susquehanna River winds through Clearfield, Pennsylvania.

What could be more enticing than “a magic place at the center of stunning landscapes, small-town values and progressive, business-friendly attitudes”? That is how the local chamber of commerce describes Clearfield, sitting on the edge of Moshannon State Forest, 35 miles from Allegheny National Forest and not far from the Appalachian Mountains, not to mention the Susquehanna River flowing through the area. “It’s a beautiful part of the country,” says Linda Cindric, a recruiter at Penn Highlands Healthcare (PHH), which operates four area hospitals in Du Bois, Clearfield, Brookville and Elk.

It’s also a short 35 miles from State College, home of Penn State University, and about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh, both of which, as county commissioner John Sobel points out, offer “all the amenities of city athletics.” He adds that outdoor activities abound, including hunting and fishing. On a more citified note, “This is an active arts-related community,” he notes. “There are several local galleries, a music group and an umbrella arts organization.” Not to mention the movie theaters and several restaurants, including Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub. (Among other beefy challenges, they offer a 123-pound burger. Price: $379.)

Clearfield, PA

The town is home to an active arts community.

Clearfield County itself could confound a newcomer with its variety of population centers—one city, 18 boroughs, 30 townships, 12 “census designated places” and four unincorporated communities. The city is actually Du Bois, 20 miles from Clearfield, the county seat.

The hospitals have their own version of consolidation. While all provide standard services needed in any community, each offers its own set of specialty treatments. For more advanced procedures, patients can be referred to hospitals in Pittsburgh, Altoona or Danville. PHH also offers educational programs and other public health related services.

Last July, Mary Clare Maninang-Ocampo, M.D., joined the staff at Penn Highlands Center for Children’s Care, affiliated with the Clearfield hospital. Born in the Philippines, she moved with her family at age 8 to California, but her medical school choice was in her home country, where she also completed her internship and was licensed before returning to the U.S. for a residency and chief resident position at what is now the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The advantage of a Filipino license is that she has a foot in the door to go back there on medical missions, an opportunity, she says, that she “really loves.”

In the meantime, all of her family members had returned to the Philippines except for one sister still living in the Garden State. Maninang-Ocampo wanted to be close to the sister but preferred to leave the state to practice, partly because of the high cost of living. She adds, “I didn’t want to be involved in a big institution, (but) in a small community-based (hospital and/or clinic) in a medium-sized city.” And a good place to raise her two children. “I didn’t know anybody in Clearfield, but when I saw the group I’d be working with I had the feeling that I would just fit in.” And her sister is a mere four hours away.

Maninang-Ocampo rotates between two locations, one in Clearfield and one in nearby Philipsburg, where, she says, “they want to build a bigger practice and a new clinic. It’s kind of challenging. I’ll probably be the first pediatrician here.”

Sobel promotes the area as “a nice place to live and raise a family, where crime is really low and where people can still leave their houses unlocked and cars don’t get stolen.”

But that doesn’t take modernization—or entertainment—off the page.

In a new project, the city is fostering a mile-long walkway, complete with a boutique hotel, plus a new park. With more improvements coming, such as streetscape and riverfront projects, the Clearfield Revitalization Corporation and Main Street Program are working to set up a youth council as a way to encourage young people to stay.



North Central Kansas

Prairie surprises

By Eileen Lockwood | Live & Practice | Spring 2015


Concannon Susan Craig IMG 2406

Craig and Susan Concannon

A funny thing happened to internist Craig Concannon, M.D., on his way to a new job after finishing his residency at the University of Kansas Affiliated Hospitals in Wichita, Kansas.

Concannon and his wife, Susan, had done a brief search in the Southwest but had returned to Salina, Kansas—her hometown—to continue the quest, he says, “when we got word they were looking for a guy up here (in Beloit).”

They drove the hour northwest to the town on a Sunday morning. His conclusion: “It’s just a pleasant atmosphere, and we knew pretty much when we left just where we were coming.”

Now, 28 years later, he’s sure he made the right decision. From the beginning, the medical group, Beloit Medical Center, P.A., “was very well capable of handling the issues that I wanted to deal with,” he says. “It was important that they had a nice ICU and that they had a surgeon here. Those two things made the decision pretty easy.”

Concannon has also been pleased by a “very supportive” community. “There’s nothing in the 28 years I’ve been here,” he says, “that they didn’t do if we needed it, and there was nothing we couldn’t achieve.”

Susan proceeded to plunge into civic volunteer work, which accelerated after their three children went on to pursue their own careers.

She led a campaign to restore an 1879 doctor’s home to be used as a Ronald McDonald-style hospitality house, helped raise impressive funds for hospital improvements and became a leader in campaigns to prevent wealth from leaving town. She’s currently serving a second term in the Kansas legislature.

Beloit is a member of the Sunflower Health Network, a group of 17 hospitals mostly located throughout North Central Kansas who collaborate on several different programs. One of those programs is Sunflower Careers, of which 15 of its member hospitals participate for provider recruitment.

The network programs and services include group health insurance, group contracts, clinical integration, education and group purchasing, as well as physician recruitment and retention. Other participating hospitals are located in Lyons, Ellsworth, Lincoln, Smith Center, Beloit and Clay Center, with populations ranging from 1,300 to 4,700.

The Dashiels

Stacy Dashiell, M.D., and her husband, Christian, met at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas —and decided to raise their family in the area. 

In Lyons, Stacy Dashiell, M.D., who was born, raised and educated in Kansas, may be one of the state’s most energetic and dedicated physicians. Following four years of training at the University of Kansas Medical Center and residency at the Research Medical Center there, she’s in her fifth year at the Sterling Medical Center of Hospital District #1 of Rice County. The hospital itself, with 25 beds, is in Lyons. Sterling is one of two clinics. She and her partner alternate office work days in the clinic, but they’re on call full time throughout the county. She covers the ER at the hospital itself in Lyons one evening a week and is on call there one week each month. She also services nursing homes.

Her specialized OB training also comes in handy—each of her patients can be sure she’ll be there throughout their pregnancies and deliveries. Not only that, she adds, “When I’m on call, I am also the county coroner.”

Dashiell’s family includes a biological son and two adopted daughters, one from Vietnam and one from Ethiopia. She has a good story behind the first adoption: Her husband, Christian —now a chaplain at Sterling College where they met, but then a seminary student —tried out to be on the “Wheel of Fortune” show when its recruiters came to town. As a contestant, he won $35,000, which the couple promptly dedicated to adoption expenses.

Tender loving care, up-to-date hospitals and modernization could be key words for all of these Kansas towns. Each has a distinctive history, plus a variety of recreational and leisure features. Ellsworth, for instance, became known as “The Wickedest Cattle Town in Kansas,” with shootouts, saloons, brothels and gambling halls. Wild Bill Hickok ran for sheriff and was defeated. Wyatt Earp served briefly. Two sheriffs died of gunshot wounds. Now, in the 21st century, historic buildings are being restored, but modernity has broken in, including the Smoky Hills Wind Farm with wind turbines that generate power for 85,000 area homes. Ellsworth’s sports possibilities include baseball, softball and soccer fields, parks, swimming pool, tennis courts and a City Hall gym.

The Dashiel Family

Stacy Dashiell, M.D., and her husband, Christian, met at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas —and decided to raise their family in the area. 

A welcome sign at Lincoln identifies it as a city “the size of a dime with the heart of a dollar.” It also has a mindset that doesn’t give up. Set on rolling hills overlooking the Saline River, Lincoln harks back to earlier days when trees were nonexistent on the prairie. (Cottonwood trees now abound.) Limestone was the building material of necessity, creating a legacy today of strikingly beautiful public buildings and churches. Even now, one of Lincoln’s major industries is quartzite quarrying, but another dominant industry is the US Tower Corporation, which manufactures steel towers for commercial and government use.

Two full-time physicians are employed at the 14-bed Lincoln County Hospital. The city’s school system gets excellent marks, as do the downtown Lincoln Art Center, three other museums and several restaurants. To encourage more newcomers, one developer has been offering free homesites in a new subdivision.

Add to all of the above a short drive to Salina for shopping and entertainment. And, enhancing the Old West scene, are several managed buffalo herds, as well assorted wildlife roaming amid picturesque hillsides on surrounding land.

Clay Center identifies itself as “The City Beautiful” and proves it with a variety of parks and play areas, plus a recently opened pool—and a zoo. Adding to the ambience are golf courses, a museum, leisure center for senior citizens and a variety of stores.

The current Clay Center Medical Center was built in 1963 but has been enlarged and redecorated three times since 1993. The medical staff now includes eight physicians, a PA-C, two APRNs and an independent family physician. The city’s schools are “progressive,” it boasts a community band and continuing growth in business and industry. The city also has a unique claim to fame: It sits at the exact midpoint between two giant centers of civilization—Los Angeles and New York City. The distance from each is 1,224 miles.

A windfarm near Ellsworth, KS

Kansas is know for its ample farmland, which now includes wind farms such as this one near Ellsworth.

Smith Center, with 1,600 residents (3,000 in the county), has become a poster town for what happens when a few lively people go to work. “We have that 30-something age group that sees these rural towns dying and sees that it’s going to be up to them to restore life to them,” says Garoleen Wilson, the economic development director. And they’re doing it. She cites a young entrepreneur who moved his family from Arizona, rented part of a recently renovated building and, thanks to computer technology, opened a national collection agency. Another returned to farm with his father and also became the county attorney. A third has organized the increasingly popular Meet in the Middle Bicycle Festival. Adding to the flavor are Sunday afternoon auctions that have become busier and busier.

In the meantime, a mainstay, Peterson Industries, continues to manufacture top-rated Excel Travel Trailers. The area is a magnet for turkey and whitetail deer hunters as well as bass and walleye fishermen. And the health mainstay is the 25-bed Smith County Memorial Hospital, with four physicians and four nurse practitioners.

Beloit, too, in the center of Kansas’ famed Smoky Hills, is one of the U.S.’ best pheasant hunting areas, but its outdoor assets also include nearby Waconda Lake and Glen Elder State Park, with fishing, camping and nature study opportunities. The area’s largest industry is agriculture, but its historic homes add to the city ambience, its schools have a reputation for excellence and it’s home to North Central Kansas Technical College.



Down the Field…

Soaring TV ratings for Brazil’s recent World Cup tournament proved that soccer has come of age in the U.S. So have increasing numbers of teams and stadiums in our homeland.

By Eileen Lockwood | Fall 2014 | Live & Practice


Few sports may ever outdistance the Big Three—baseball, football and basketball—in American hearts, but more and more soccer fields and stadiums are proving a burgeoning interest in the game, especially in Baltimore; Foxborough, Massachusetts; Appleton, Wisconsin; and Scottsdale, Arizona.

Danny Liang

Danny Liang, M.D., and his family enjoy the parks and museums in and around Baltimore. As his family gets older, chances are they’ll check out The Baltimore Blast, the city’s professional soccer team, which draws some 6,000 fans to each game.

Star spangled city


In dawn’s early light on Sept. 14, 1814, during the War of 1812, a young Baltimore lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was aboard the British Navy flagship negotiating the release of an American prisoner. The Brits had been shelling the city and its Fort McHenry for some time. Watching from a porthole, Key could see by the rocket’s red glare that our flag was still there. And so he wrote a poem that would eventually segue into America’s national anthem.

This year, the city and nearby communities pulled out all the stops for a 10-day Star-Spangled Spectacular to celebrate the bicentennial of that day. Festivities included tall ships and Blue Angels, battle reenactments, living history programs, a patriotic concert and fireworks, all climaxed by a flag-raising ceremony at Fort McHenry at the exact moment when Key spotted the soon-to-be immortal banner.

On a more permanent basis, history buffs can visit, among other sites, the Fort McHenry National Monument and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where seamstress Mary Pickersgill produced the immortal 15-star/15-stripe flag.

Patriotic events notwithstanding and long before Key was born, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was a prosperous port, beginning in 1706. Ironically, considering today’s heavy medical concentration, this success was launched by the tobacco trade.

Over the years, Baltimore has had its ups and downs, but it has found its way to modern prosperity, spurred significantly by success in the field of medicine. Among its 11 acute care hospitals—one dating back to 1854—are two world-famous research institutions: The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and the University of Maryland Medical System.

Danny Liang, M.D., can testify to the quality. After growing up in southern New Jersey and earning undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Pennsylvania and University of New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers, he completed his residency at UMMS, then left for a fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Because of friends in New York City and good career prospects for his wife, he accepted an offer to practice there. But after two and a half years, they decided to join the UMMS family. “New York City was big; Baltimore is not too big. And I got a good offer,” he says.

Early this year, he joined the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in nearby Glen Burnie, where he specializes in neurosurgery and spine surgery, is director of neurosurgical oncology and a clinical assistant professor at the university’s medical school.

As for the location itself, he notes that it’s “somewhere quiet where the kids can grow up,” not to mention “lower living expenses.” Another reason for moving was that “the medical climate in New York is very, very competitive, with little time for a personal life.”

Liang’s interest in soccer started early. He played the game as a boy. He gave it up early in high school, but his interest continued. “I was watching the World Cup,” he says, “but haven’t gone to games in Baltimore yet. So far, the family takes up most of my time.” That includes visiting parks and museums, partly in nearby Ellicott City, where they now live. The children, now 3 and 8 months old, have helped him discover that “there are a lot of parks around here.”

His previous Baltimore experience showed him some of the many leisure-time opportunities, which he intends to pursue when the children can appreciate them. A good bet, though, is that before too long, he’ll be introducing the family to Baltimore Blast, the city’s professional soccer team. The Blast’s inaugural game in the Baltimore Arena was on Nov. 29, 1980. Diehard fans remember that its new heroes defeated its Philadelphia opponent 10-7. Since then the team has captured seven championships, and it currently attracts some 6,000 fans per game.

The arena also became a major spur in a 1960s city resurgence after the harborside and some other city areas had frayed around the edges following World War II. The basketball Colts had helped enliven the scene starting in 1953, but they defected to Indianapolis in 1984. The blow was greatly softened by the fact that the Inner Harbor was in full-blown redevelopment by then.

Today it’s home to the widely known National Aquarium, plus the Maryland Science Center and, at last count, seven other museums, some in striking, innovative headquarters, including the offbeat Visionary Art Museum and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, a tribute to the comic arts. The shore that once welcomed thousands of immigrants and cargo-laden ships now hosts thousands of tourists at both its World Trade Center and Convention Center.

Not far away, baseball multitudes can cheer on the venerable Orioles and tour a sports museum at Camden Yards, then visit the home of the immortal Babe Ruth.

However, the revived harbor area has created some friendly jealousy in town. “Visitors are often so overwhelmed by the Inner Harbor that they overlook other thriving city neighborhoods,” says Katie Caljean at the Maryland Historical Society, one of the anchors of the Mount Vernon Cultural District, a haven of spectacular 19th-century architecture, arts and culture galore, outdoor cafes and upscale restaurants.

Also conveniently located near the harbor and central business district is the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District, with the renovated Hippodrome Theatre featuring Broadway performers. Rising above the scene is the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower itself, built by the antacid inventor and later renovated to house 15 stories of artists’ studios.

The urban mix includes some 6,000 acres of parkland and 25 miles of waterfront, with public boat launches and piers for crabbing and fishing. At least three yearly public rod-and-hook events are held, including the Fall Fishing Derby.

Also notable is the work of mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has mounted a SaferCity Campaign. Among strategies are public safety forums in police districts, as well as at town hall sessions and youth connection centers. There are also forums for young people to speak directly to administration and city leaders. Added to the mix is a new police commissioner who has streamlined the force for quicker responses to criminal activity.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake also shepherds work toward a greener and healthier city.

One thriving endeavor is the wellness program for city employees, featuring a $250 health reimbursement benefit. This can be used for such items as gym memberships and eyeglasses and a new community-supported agriculture program with weekly farm-to-office deliveries of fresh produce. “These are good examples of what happens when everyone works together, (in this case) a lot of good people who care deeply trying to do their best every day,” says Daniel Atzmon, prevention specialist in the mayor’s criminal justice office.

Baltimore’s hospitals have vigorously pursued the “health incentive,” especially the internationally known Johns Hopkins and the renowned University of Maryland Medical System.

Quaker merchant Johns Hopkins bequeathed a huge sum of money to be used for the hospital system that now bears his name. The first building opened on May 7, 1889. Today the system includes six hospitals, some 30 outpatient care sites and four suburban health and surgery centers. Its heavy focus on research has produced many solutions and new surgical techniques, some of them nothing short of miraculous.

Well-publicized in recent years has been the success of recently retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, M.D., in separating conjoined twins. In 2012, W.P. Andrew, M.D., led a team to perform a double-arm transplant that was preceded by two years of planning.

Among current striking research is development of a combination drug therapy that cures chronic hepatitis C in a majority of patients also infected with HIV. It’s now in a phase three clinical trial. Yet another recent breakthrough has been coaxing adult stem cells to build themselves into a retina. Researchers hope this will lead to building other body parts as well.

Meanwhile, with 12 general facilities and a pediatric hospital, UMMS is Maryland’s largest health system and is accomplishing its goal of “reaching every part of the state and beyond,” says Meghan Scalea, the communications account director. And critically ill patients can reach it. “We receive the sickest of the sick patients from across the state,” she adds. “And our helipad can accommodate four flights at a time.”

Among other hospitals in its group, St. Joseph Medical Center recently received a three-star quality rating for coronary artery bypass grafting surgery and aortic valve replacement. At another, UM Charles Regional Medical Center, patients can now view their medical information online.

All physicians practicing at the hospital are also members of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, founded in 1807 and the U.S.’ oldest public medical college. Over the years, it has led the way in teaching improvements from making anatomical dissection compulsory to offering courses in preventive medicine and, more recently, a dedicated, multidisciplinary trauma program. It’s been the site of the most extensive face transplant to date.

But, for hospitals, city involvement does not stop at the doors. Johns Hopkins, for instance, is involved in more than 300 city revitalization programs, including community building ventures, a children’s early head start program, a summer jobs incentive, housing support for male substance abusers and a women’s substance abuse program.

If Francis Scott Key were living today, he would undoubtedly dream up an anthem to praise not only hospital improvement efforts but also all of the other caring citizens involved in them.

Appleton Bridge

A former paper mill has been transformed into apartments and town houses, many with great views of the Fox River (above). Below, the Ganther Race the Lake sends bicyclists on a 90-mile ride around Lake Winnebago, the largest lake that sits totally within Wisconsin’s borders. Appleton sits on the lake’s north side.

Fox River Odyssey

Appleton, Wis.

There can’t be many places in the U.S. where colleges were founded before the cities themselves were incorporated. Perhaps Appleton is unique in that category.

The college in question is now Lawrence University. It has been consistently listed in America’s 40 “Colleges That Change Lives” rankings.

You could say the university was an early example of “If you build it they will come.” The Lawrence Institute opened in 1847. By 1853, there were enough settlers to incorporate the village of Appleton, named for Lawrence’s father-in-law, who had contributed $10,000 for the college library.

Before long, newcomers were lured by an emerging paper industry, which was spiked by the fact that falls on the river could be harnessed to provide electricity for ever-increasing production. Today, the Fox River Valley includes at least 20 municipalities in three counties and is home to the highest concentration of papermaking facilities in the world. While nearby Neenah has become the area’s major “paper city,” complete with the giant Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Appleton has cultivated other paper-oriented businesses. It’s the site of a $35 million printing and distribution facility located at one of four business parks. Other products include coated papers, labels, corrugated boxes and packaging for food and pharmaceuticals.

The region is home to some 367,000 and is one of the state’s most urbanized and industrialized areas. From its northern beginning, the Fox River itself runs 182 miles to flow into the huge Lake Winnebago, which in turn flows into Lake Michigan. Winnebago is Wisconsin’s largest inland body of water and is a destination for fishermen both in the winter and warmer months.

But not alone by paper does Appleton thrive. Its economy flourishes with some 50 information technology companies, more than 70 computer hardware and software firms, about 20 medical equipment and device manufacturers, 130 machinery and equipment producers, and several banks and investment firms.

In the meantime, business growth has been accompanied by other serendipities, not the least of which is soccer.

“We have been ranked one of the top 10 soccer cities in the U.S. by Livability Magazine,” says Matt Ten Haken, the sports marketing director at the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. One reason: “We’ve had a tradition of really great coaches and great leaders and parents. And it’s only going to grow.” The Appleton Soccer Club, one of three in town, provides programs for boys and girls from 8 to 14. Youth baseball is alive and well, too, with Little League teams for kids.

Adding to the sports enthusiasm in general has been the USA Youth Sports Complex, which was built in 1996 and incorporates 15 soccer fields and four for baseball. “It’s the largest soccer complex in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the Midwest,” Ten Haken says. Now teams from as far as Kentucky and the Dakotas head to Appleton for 15 annual sports tournaments (five or six are soccer). Visitor spending adds an estimated $3 million to the city coffers.

Other aspects of the city’s sports ambience are golf clubs, a roller rink, a family ice center, and the Appleton Curling Club. Wisconsin winters in this area are also conducive to ice skating as well as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

In warmer weather, “camping, hunting and fishing are only an hour and a half away as well,” reports Nathan Grunwald, M.D., who adds that Milwaukee, the same distance to the south, offers a wealth of cultural experiences. He can cite a plethora of reasons for returning to his hometown after going afield for his education, first to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, then to the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, followed by residency at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, 15 miles from the Beer City. He now practices family medicine with ThedaCare Physicians in nearby Menasha and has affiliations with the seven member hospitals in the ThedaCare group, including Appleton Hospital. The group itself recently joined a pioneering statewide partnership of five hospital organizations.

Aside from the fact that he’s affiliated with one of America’s most forward-looking hospitals, Grunwald lists life assets not always found in many of today’s cities.

  1. “It’s a great place to raise a family. Wisconsin generally consistently ranks high, and the Fox Valley in particular, in (publications) like U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.”
  2. “The cost of living is below average, but average reimbursements across all jobs are actually above the national average.”
  3. “Schools and educational systems are fantastic.”
  4. “I like that the Fox Cities are, from a physician’s standpoint, large enough that I can maintain some level of anonymity but small enough that I do run into patients from time to time.”

Recruiting notwithstanding, he adds, “I think it speaks volumes that we have so many physicians who come back home because they know how good it is here.”

Some programs of both health care institutions in the city—Appleton and St. Elizabeth Hospitals—could be models for some of America’s most prestigious institutions.

Beginning with first physician encounters at Appleton Hospital, the keyword is efficiency, as well as high-quality care. In fact, notes spokesperson Megan Wilcox, “We bring patients in to help us educate care team members and improve processes,” such as making appointments at more convenient times and providing same-day lab results. FastCare clinics are open 24/7. A Community Health Action Team has helped improve care in the hospital itself. Extending care to the wider area includes “community plunges” to determine residents’ needs, taking services to many county families and matching poor families with community mentors.

St. Elizabeth Hospital is in a multi-year process to completely renovate and update its campus, much of the plan based on suggestions from some 700 patients and 300 staff members, reports spokesperson Angela Brumm.

The most recent dramatic achievement has been the opening of a spacious hybrid operating room this spring. The 1,200-square-foot chamber is equipped with super-state-of-the-art equipment. Pre-operative procedures and tests can be done in one location. Then surgeons can select a robotic option, but, if not, available space makes it possible for several specialists to function comfortably, performing complex procedures in less time and “using spellbinding accuracy and the least possible amount of radiation,” according to printed information. “It’s one of the most technologically advanced ORs in the world,” enthuses Brumm. “It has the latest endoscopic video equipment and surgical technology and the first imaging system based on robotic technology.”

An added advantage for both hospitals is the Fox Valley Technical College with several hospital-related sequences.

Meanwhile, after a hard day at the office, Grunwald can look forward to a “date night with my wife with the kids at home, a nice adult evening in any number of different dining establishments—and end up at the Performing Arts Center. I love that (in Appleton) we have our own PAC that has all sorts of great cultural opportunities.”

Dr. Matthew Rogalsk

“There’s a nice style of living in this area,” says Matthew Rogalski, M.D., a gynecologist at The Foxboro Center for Women’s & Family Health. “There’s a full office every day and plenty of people to take care of.”

The Gem of Norfolk County

Foxborough, Mass.

‘‘We are a municipality with a dual identity, and we wear both names proudly.” That’s how Jack Authelet, Foxborough’s (or Foxboro) town historian, describes his city.

Most of the town’s established institutions stick with the more traditional “ough” ending to the name, but various businesses, the U.S. Postal Service, and probably many residents, prefer the shortened form, Foxboro.

There’s another “contradiction,” too. In the fall, on most Sundays, the everyday population of about 6,000 swells to more than 70,000. That’s when the New England Patriots move into Gillette Stadium. Residents aren’t complaining, though. The Patriots’ home field, which opened in 2002, has been a welcome contributor to the city’s economy. One example: At a typical game, fans consume, among other foods, a ton of Italian sausage and 186 gallons of clam chowder.

More important to soccer aficionados, Gillette is also home to the New England Revolution, although game attendance isn’t quite as big—yet. To make it easy for fans to view replays in either sport, the field is equipped with the largest HDTV screen in an outdoor NFL stadium. The venue also hosts international soccer matches, NCAA lacrosse championships, high school football super bowls and numerous concert tours and special events.

One good thing led to another when a smart developer added the nearby Patriot Place shopping plaza. Now it’s a year-round destination for area residents complete with shops, restaurants, supermarkets, movie theater and afterhours entertainment venues.

Even more conveniently located next to the stadium is the Brigham and Women’s/Massachusetts General Health Care Center, an “outpost” of the renowned Boston institution. It’s equipped with a day surgery unit and offers such services as diagnostic imaging, sports medicine, gynecology, urology, pain treatment and physical therapy follow-up care. There’s an on-premise rehab pool, plus cardio training equipment.

“Essentially Patriot Plaza is like a large outlet store center,” reports gynecologist Matthew Rogalski, M.D., whose place of employment is located on the road to the stadium. The Foxboro Center for Women’s & Family Health is equipped to manage all aspects of women’s health. Foxborough itself has no hospital, but the center is one of 17 outlying arms of Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Massachusetts, 10 miles south of Foxborough. He and his colleagues follow through at the “mother” hospital with deliveries and more complicated cases. There are no full-service medical centers in the city.

Rogalski earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut, then went on to Wake Forest University School of Medicine followed by training at Drexel/Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, where he was the administrative chief resident.

He was happy to find a conducive atmosphere in Foxborough, which, in spite of its current stadium/shopping-mall hubbub, has kept its New England small-town charm. “There’s a nice style of living in this area,” he says.

While Rogalski follows the Revolution, plus English and French leagues, two of his three children, 8 and 5, play soccer in school. “They both really enjoy it,” he says.

As for his practice, low city population notwithstanding, he reports, “There’s a full office every day and plenty of people to take care of. In a prior hospital where I was, there wasn’t a busy enough environment for me.” He and the family moved to Foxborough late last year.

“(The health center) turned out to be a great fit between my personality and the rest of the group, so we decided to go ahead and do a long-term relationship.” His photographer wife has found a satisfying work schedule, too.

As for Foxborough itself, Authelet, the historian, is elated by the continuing sense of community. He says he’ll never forget one demonstration of neighborliness: As editor of the local newspaper, he published a story about the tragic death of a mother and two children. “The next day, firemen were on every street corner selling papers to donate money for the family survivors. That, for me,” he adds, “is the true Foxborough.”

The town location also makes it a good takeoff point for short getaways. “We’re very, very close to the Berkshire Mountains and to Cape Cod,” says Authelet. Not to mention the bigger cities, as it is close to the conjunction of I-95 and I-495. “At one time this was called the Golden Crossroads,” he says. A quick map check proves that it’s still true.


The Scottsdale Arts District has hosted an ArtWalk for 30 years each Thursday—a self-guided tour of the area’s galleries, fountains and restaurants.

In the Valley of the Sun

Scottsdale, Arizona

Many people think of Scottsdale as a great winter getaway town. In fact, when it gets cold in the northern latitudes—including Canada—the city population swells with “returning seasonal visitors,” aka snowbirds. And not by the thousands, either—but by millions, according to city authorities. This warm desert refuge is ready for them. Hotel accommodations abound, and there are more than a thousand restaurants.

Homes of new residents soon begin to blossom with southwestern and Native American art works, as well as exquisite handmade art pottery. Art shops in Old Town Scottsdale, many with outdoor sculptures, are ready to satisfy the demand.

As for “playground” accommodations, reports family medicine physician Mark Heisler, M.D., “The only state in the country with more new golf courses is Florida.” The current total, new and older, is 125.

Other visitor attractions have multiplied in the last couple of decades and now include two spring training stadiums for Major League Baseball teams, not to mention several arts and entertainment venues in the city. The city holds a Spring Training Festival every February.

Though baseball mesmerizes winter visitors and locals, too, soccer has been building up its numbers and appeal in recent years. Many a school has lively student teams, but the city itself has several clubs both amateur and professional. In fact, a girls’ team, Phoenix Rush, is now the largest youth soccer club in the world. Not only that, the game has found its way onto the huge new 71-acre Scottsdale Sports Complex in the northern reaches of town. Besides soccer, its fields accommodate lacrosse, football and rugby. “(Soccer) is huge here—in the valley and all over,” says a spokesman, who adds, “We are booked solid for soccer practices and tournaments on weekends.”

But this thriving suburb of Phoenix is much more than a winter playground—and it too has grown exponentially in recent years.

When Heisler began his practice, his office was on the northern “rim” of Scottsdale, he recalls. Ditto for the first hospital, Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, which was on Shea Boulevard, one of the northernmost roads in the town. Civilization now extends some 15 miles north of Shea to the Tonto National Forest, twice as far as the city’s stretch south from Shea.

Scottsdale Healthcare has blossomed into three hospitals, and the northernmost, Thompson Peak, opened in 2007, is considerably farther north of Shea. And busy. Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center, first of the three, opened in 1962 near the southern area of town. Except for the Mayo Clinic, which opened in 1987, the three currently are the city’s exclusive care centers.

The three Scottsdale Healthcare entities encompass a few unusual endeavors. For instance, its Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, among other research, focuses on translating medical innovations into solutions and speeding breakthrough therapies for “treating devastating and debilitating disorders.” Another example: Working with the Translational Genomics Research Institute, the research arm has developed personalized therapeutic options that can help doctors determine best treatment options. A third example is its military partnership to train medical personnel to meet requirements necessary for deployment. A second related program helps nurses transition into military service.

Heisler remembers his days as an employee practitioner at the Shea location, where he worked for two years before opening his own office. “When I started at Shea,” he says, “I had nine admissions one weekend, and that was 60 percent of the hospital census.” Not anymore. When he and three colleagues opened a practice much farther north, he recalls, “there was one other doctor up here, and we were saying, ‘Why did we want to go up north when there’s nobody up there?’ We did it—and really got busy pretty fast.”

The current swelling population may blur the fact that the mountains stand sentinel throughout the whole metro area, not to mention nearby stands of Ponderosa Pines, the Tonto National Forest and the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and the 30,000-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve with superb natural sites. All offer hiking and/or biking possibilities.

Scottsdale residents have seen some ups and downs over the years. Once upon a time, a southern section along Scottsdale Road was dubbed the Motor Mile because of its many auto dealers. Its companion was a mega-shopping mall. As the car kingdom moved away, the mall closed.

However, a few years later, along came SkySong, the Arizona State University Innovation Center. Passersby can’t help but notice the massive canvas wings covering the entrance to the first building, which is being joined by office buildings and a variety of residential properties.

Not far away are other mammoth undertakings, especially the Scottsdale Fashion Square and a development of high-rise apartment buildings along the canal that flows through the city.

In the meantime, Shea Boulevard and vicinity has emerged as the Cure Corridor, encouraging partnerships among biotechnology companies and the two healthcare facilities on the street.

In some places, climates akin to summer in Arizona may bring on lassitude. But not in Scottsdale, where newcomers keep arriving—and people keep plowing ahead.

Eileen Lockwood is a regular contributor to PracticeLink Magazine.



Falling for water

Put your suit on, grab a fishing pole and start picking out a boat­! These four places welcome physicians with a love for all things water.

By Eileen Lockwood | Live & Practice | Summer 2014


Physicians Jonathan and Amanda Storey recently relocated from Florida to Guntersville, Alabama. The area has been a good fit for the family­, which includes a 2-year-old son and 8-year-old twin boys.

Rivers, lakes and oceans have always played crucial roles in survival, prosperity and eventually, recreation. Here are four stellar American examples—Chicago; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Guntersville, Alabama; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Water, water everywhere

Guntersville, Ala.

In the early 1930s, the Tennessee River area, encompassing parts of Alabama and six other states, was in sad shape. Erosion and soil depletion had led to bad crop yields, and the best timber had been cut. Poverty was rampant. Then along came Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Deal and the signing of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act on May 18, 1933.

In one of America’s largest public projects, the river was dammed in 20 places. Flooding was controlled, navigation improved, electricity generated and several lakes formed, including Lake Guntersville, now Alabama’s largest at 69,000 acres. (Locals call it Guntersville Lake.) The makeover, in effect, turned the city of Guntersville into a peninsula. It was the beginning of a climb to prosperity that continues today.

Local residents are convinced that almost every activity and enterprise is either in the water, on the water or near the water. Both Gideon Ewing, M.D., and Jonathan Storey, M.D., heartily agree. They’re hematology and oncology specialists who have become strong friends after arriving two years ago—Ewing from Mississippi and Storey from Florida. They work at the Marshall Cancer Care Center in Albertville but live in Guntersville. In fact, Storey’s home has a screened porch overlooking the lake.

The cancer center is a component of Marshall Medical Center, which includes hospitals in both Guntersville and Boaz. In Albertville, the cancer care center is located in a professional building where other services are provided, such as a pain clinic, sleep disorder clinic and wound healing. All three have pain therapy facilities. As for cancer treatment, Storey notes that a recent affiliation with UAB Hospital/Birmingham can help his facility go even beyond its current capabilities.

Built in 1990, Guntersville’s Medical Center North is the newer of the two hospital facilities. It has four operating suites with an additional option of same-day surgery, offers specialty care in several areas, and has a 22,000-square-foot outpatient rehab and fitness center that includes a 75-foot lap pool. The Boaz location was built in 1956 but has more beds. Its 81 physicians provide care in more than 20 specialties.

After just one visit to Guntersville, Ewing decided to move his practice from Mississippi to Alabama. Before making a final decision, he and his wife, Alicia, a pediatrician, did some exploring and discovered that “the area itself is lovely.” He adds, “I was very impressed with the people, which ultimately led to our decision to move.” Another factor was the school system. Their daughter, 5, is in kindergarten. (Their son is 2.) After touring the elementary school, he says, “We became confident that there was a good public school system here.”

Storey concurs—and then some. While they were in residencies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, he and his wife, Amanda, a family practitioner, felt “obligated” to enroll their twin sons, now 8, in a private school. (They now also have a 2-year-old.) In Guntersville, the choice was public school.

Ewing’s water exposure until now has been minimal. However, his exposure to Guntersville Lake has lured him into “trying my hand at fishing. I’ve managed to buy myself a little fishing boat, and I’ve spent some time trying to learn how to do that.”

Storey, on the other hand, might legitimately be called an expert. “I’ve pretty much lived near water all of my life,” he says. These days he does some sailing on Guntersville Lake, as well as “Sea Doo-ing.”

This is how he explains his relocation decision: “My wife and I have some family that live about an hour and a half from here. On our way to visit them one summer, I got an email describing an oncology position that was located in northeastern Alabama, in a city on the lake. I called to see if it was close to Amanda’s family,” which it was. “It was kind of strange. I wasn’t really looking for a job at all. Since I was in the neighborhood, I called and asked if I could stop by. That was the beginning of the end,” he says, adding, “I mean that in the best of ways.”

All of this lives up to the promise of one spokesman: “The city makes quality of life a way of life.”

A little slice of heaven

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

An aerial inspection of Idaho’s northern panhandle more than confirms Coeur d’Alene’s claim to the title of “Lake City.” Besides the huge lake of the same name, some 55 others inhabit the nearby area. TV grand dame Barbara Walters dubbed the city “a little slice of heaven.”

A thriving, comfortable downtown starts at the very edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene and, in one unusual case, actually extends into the water. At the golf course on the lakeside grounds of the luxury Coeur d’Alene Resort, the 14th green is known as the floating green. It’s an island.

This is how Michael May, M.D., summarizes his life so far, including his eight-year tenure as a general surgeon with the Kootenai Clinic, the city’s 254-bed hospital: “Adding up all the years I’ve lived by the water would probably amount to more than two-thirds of my life. So now (my family and I) have another waterside community.”

May grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, where his father, brother and sister are all physicians. He moved to Galveston to earn his medical degree at the University of Texas Medical Branch there. Internship and residency in Austin and Dallas, then practicing on Whidbey Island, Washington, after which he and his wife decided to venture abroad—first to a Tasmanian city on a river, followed by a town near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. After that, influenced partly by his Spokane-born wife and his good Pacific Northwest experience on Whidbey Island, he was ready to return. Coeur d’Alene has met his professional and personal qualifications—and then some.

Professionally, he says, “What’s good about living here is that the community and hospital are just the perfect size to be able to practice general surgery.” As for Kootenai Health on a wider scale, May notes that, under a new CEO, “the hospital is undergoing a lot of growth. He’s been pretty aggressive in trying to expand its reach and make it more of a regional referral center.” The plan included breaking ground in May for a $57 million expansion, as well as the startup of a family medical residency program in July. In April, the hospital was verified as a Level III Trauma Center.

Kootenai Health (pronounced “Coot-ney”) dates back to its 1966 opening on the grounds of a former naval training station. A three-story addition opened in 1984. During construction, local residents dubbed it the “Big Blue,” the color of a temporary exterior wrapping. The name stuck. To go along with the community whimsy, spokesperson Becky Orchard says, three coffee stands in the hospital were named the Big Blue Coffee Company.

On a more serious note, Orchard cites the hospital’s wilderness medicine program. “It’s pretty unique as a component of our residency program,” she says. “It really sets with the story (of the area).” The program creates treatment experience in an area where skiers, hikers and river rafters might need emergency care.

May, his wife and three children—ages 10, 8 and 6—try to take full advantage of all four seasons, his other reason for relocating. “We ski in winter, and in other seasons we go cycling, play some golf and do some stuff on the lake,” he says. They don’t have to look far for an overflowing plate of alfresco opportunities. “The neat thing,” he says, “is that if you put a marker on a map in Coeur d’Alene and drew a 200-mile circle around it, it would encompass this amazing amount of things you could do.”

Of the original Native American inhabitants, seven tribes still thrive in Idaho’s five northern counties, but the lake and city naming rights went to the Coeur d’Alene nation. In recent times (1987), the tribes joined forces to plan and develop the Benewah Medical and Wellness Center in nearby Plummer, believed to be the first partnership venture of its kind. Among its treatment resources is a $5 million wellness center with healthy exercise opportunities for rehab patients and others.

When gold and silver were discovered in the later 1800s, the area experienced a population boom. According to Colleen Rosson, director of a nearby chamber of commerce, the mines still yield many tons of silver. Starting in 1898, timber resources brought another boom. Almost overnight, Coeur d’Alene’s population skyrocketed from about 500 to 7,000.

In recent years, a new kind of timber crusade has led the Arbor Day Foundation to cite Coeur d’Alene as a Tree City USA. The city established its tree program in 1985. According to urban forester Katie Kasanke, city streets are now lined with some 21,000 trees, with many more in the city’s 32 parks.

CNN has labeled Coeur d’Alene one of “8 Perfect Summer Lake Towns,” but because of its surrounding area it’s also been named first in a list of Top 10 Mountain Towns by a real estate news magazine. Ski addicts can find at least two major resorts within easy driving distance.

Downtown streets are lined with boutiques, locally owned restaurants, galleries and business offices—none of them very far from nature—including the newly opened McEuen Park at the foot of Tubbs Hill (more hiking) rising from near the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Culture is alive and well with symphony, opera, live theater and the Northwest Sacred Music Chorale.

At City Hall, spokesman Keith Erickson ticks off recent city life achievements—a huge new public library; the mammoth Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Corps Center with aquatic center, sports and exercise areas, performance venue and worship center, and the Higher Education Campus with multiple colleges.

“When I moved back in 1989,” Erickson says, “the city population was about 32,000. The latest estimate is 45,000 to 47,000.”

Big-city life suits Jane Luu, M.D., MPH. She’s a four-time marathoner and enjoys running along Lake Michigan and The Riverwalk in Chicago.

Star of Lake Michigan


A river runs through it. A huge lake sits next to it. And both have been heavily responsible for the prosperity that Chicago has enjoyed for many a year. The river would be the Chicago River and the lake, of course, would be the third largest of the Great Lakes. “Mishigami,” its original Ojibwa tribal name, means “great water.” At its length of 309 miles, Lake Michigan certainly qualifies.

More important to Jane Luu, M.D., MPH, an interventional cardiologist, is that 20 of those miles are along the Chicago beach, unsullied by ugly industrial complexes that plague some cities along other lakes. “I have run four marathons, so I like to go for long runs by the lakeshore,” she says.

Another favored running location for her is The Riverwalk, a six-block promenade-in-progress alongside the north branch of the Chicago River, which she can view from her apartment in River North, an urban renewal area with residential high-rises, many restaurants and clubs—and the largest concentration of art galleries in the U.S. outside of New York.

Luu, who grew up in Philadelphia, calls herself a “city girl.” (Make that big city.) After earning a medical degree at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, she completed her residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago and went on to spend two years living in La Jolla, Calif., while completing an interventional cardiology fellowship at the Scripps Clinic in nearby San Diego.

But the lure of the big city was too powerful to deny. She returned two years ago. Her practice is with Edward Hospital in Naperville, one of 64 area hospitals associated with the DuPage Medical Group, but she happily makes the 30-mile commute.

Chicago hospitals themselves, no fewer than 27 acute care and three children’s facilities, continue to build on the city’s reputation for excellent medical care as some of them add to their facilities. Two of the most recent—and spectacular—additions have been at University of Chicago Medicine and Rush University Medical Center.

The 10-story “hospital for the future” serves as the new core of University of Chicago Medicine. Soaring above the university campus, it resembles a large stack of rectangular pancakes, but its interior has been designed, as its spokespersons put it, to adapt to future changes in patient care and research. Each of 85 modular cubes can be reconfigured as needed. For instance, two patient rooms can be “reborn” as one operating room and one interventional procedure room. Among its almost one-of-a-kind capabilities is its pediatric craniofacial surgery unit, the setting for cleft palate and underdeveloped jaw procedures, about 20 of which are performed each year.

Rush’s exotic addition to the skyline is its butterfly-shaped 14-story Tower building, which accommodates 376 beds and opened in 2012. Besides its care capabilities, staff and administrators are especially proud of its designation as the world’s largest new construction health care project to receive a LEED Gold certification for its water/energy conservation and recycling programs.

As for Luu’s Chicago love affair, it seems all-encompassing. “There are so many different cultures that you could just keep on naming them all,” she says. “I like that you can always go to a different restaurant, and there are so many cuisines that you can taste.” She also enjoys sports. “I’m still a Philadelphia fan, but I do love going to games in general. Football is my favorite; basketball is second.” (Two favorites of other Chicagoans should be mentioned here: the two baseball teams, White Sox and Cubs, and the current wildly popular heroes of hockey, the Blackhawks.

Equally captivating are the many summer festivals, as well as concerts and other lakefront entertainment opportunities at the venerable Grant Park, the reborn Navy Pier and their newest neighbor, Millennium Park. Sometime during his longtime reign, well-known Mayor Richard J. Daley coined the slogan “Chicago: The City That Works.” Almost four decades later, his successors are making sure that the mantra is still operable, as testified to by Millennium Park and the Riverwalk.

As headquarters for a long list of national corporations, Chicago can also prove that it works for the business world. Many of the companies are showcased by their spectacular buildings, some of them dating back to the rebuilding campaign following the infamous Great Fire of 1871. The fire’s aftermath drew some of America’s most creative architects to the area. A bevy of talent has made spectacular contributions to Chicago’s skyline, including Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), now with 110 floors the tallest building in America, and the John Hancock Building, now universally pictured on TV as the iconic signature of Chicago. Both have observation decks near the top to view the city’s many other architectural wonders from on high. Back at ground level, the Chicago Architectural Foundation conducts dozens of tours, including one by boat along the river.

Les Bons Temps

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

When vacationers plan trips to Louisiana, they tend to focus on New Orleans. But more experienced travelers have learned that the good times can also roll in a less-frenetic jazz-and-gumbo city just 80 miles northwest along the Mississippi River. That would be Baton Rouge, the state capital.

Jazz doesn’t spill out onto the streets, but music lovers can find it—and Cajun-style entertainment as well—in several lounges. Both bistros and sophisticated restaurants feature crawfish, catfish, oysters, soft shell crab and lobster, not to mention the Cajun specialties of gumbo, étouffée and jambalaya.

No fewer than seven major Mardi Gras parades took place during the last two weeks before Lent. Diehard devotees of “the real thing” can book space on bus tours, complete with reserved seats for the parade in The Big Easy through the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

There’s also a more serious face to Baton Rouge that includes strong business success, two universities, medical care and research, cultural offerings—and a strong serving of fascinating political history.

Family proximity has been a strong lure for Aldo Russo, M.D. Although he grew up and earned his medical degree in the Dominican Republic, he came to the U.S. for his internship and residency at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. Louisiana entered the mix when he moved to New Orleans for a gastroenterology fellowship at the Louisiana State University Medical Center there, but headed to the Pacific Northwest to practice in the Puget Sound area. The strong pull of his wife’s family brought the couple and their four children back to the southern fold. His son and daughter are now students at Louisiana State University, while two younger sons are enrolled in private school.

For the last 10 years, Russo has found a satisfying professional niche with the Ochsner Medical Center, where he’s associate medical director and heads the GI section. “There’s a great group of physicians here,” he reports. He’s made it a point to participate in hospital-related events such as colon cancer awareness and heart walks.

The Ochsner System was established in 1942 in New Orleans and named for Dr. Alton Ochsner, a pioneer researcher who linked tobacco use with lung cancer. Today, his namesake hospitals and clinics are part of the region’s largest private not-for-profit health care system.

Among the hospital’s up-to-date service areas is the newly renovated Family Birthing Center. Among other available hospital capabilities are open-heart surgery, orthopedics and advanced specialty care. It was first in the region to provide robotic-assisted surgery.

With 850 beds, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is Baton Rouge’s largest hospital in town. Its physicians also comprise the state’s largest group network. Founded in 1923 by six French nuns of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, the hospital moved to its current location in 1978 and now encompasses a dedicated children’s hospital as well as more than 40 primary care clinics in the area. Another component is Our Lady of the Lake College, a primary center for LSU’s medical teaching programs. The hospital also hosts a residency program for the LSU School of Medicine.

Research is alive and well at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, which includes 48 laboratories and encourages scientists to exchange ideas and information.

As for other industries, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber has been targeting five sectors for growth, including energy, chemical products, software design and technical research.

No summary of Baton Rouge would be complete without including accounts of governmental shenanigans under the baton of one of America’s most enduringly famous politicians, Huey P. Long, aka “The Kingfish.”

Long’s footprint is still writ large, especially in the government buildings erected during his tenure. The 34-story state capitol would be the tallest of its kind in the nation, surpassing even its counterpart in Washington. The current governor’s mansion near the capitol is open for tours. So is the previous mansion, planned by Long as a replica of the White House in Washington. The Kingfish’s other brick-and-mortar legacy is LSU itself.

Historical gems notwithstanding, life has hardly stood still in the capital city. The new Shaw Center for the Arts overlooks the river, and IBM is building a new services center as part of a mixed-use development. A new town square for concerts, festivals and other events was completed in 2012, and near the Old State Capitol is a new park.

The Kingfish wouldn’t be surprised.

Eileen Lockwood is a regular contributor to PracticeLink Magazine.




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