New doctor seeks compatible team
June 17, 2008 · Updated 3:50 PM
I want a good team of people who like working together, said Dr. David Russell, who has opted to open a private practice at the Orcas Island Medical Center.
Id like to be in charge of my destiny, added Russell, explaining why he opted not to take a job as a salaried employee at another health care facility.
The place Russell has chosen for his practice will be the Orcas Island Medical Center. It will begin Jan. 9, 2004, the day Island Hospital terminates its lease to manage the clinic.
Russell not only grew up in a small town, in Alabama, he also learned about the life of a doctor there, as his dad was an orthopedic surgeon. He got to see first-hand -- on the street, and in the grocery store -- that everybody knows the local doctor, and many are likely to ask him health-related questions whether he is on duty or not.
Watching his dad helped convince Russell to become a doctor, but also to maintain some balance in ones life, and leave time both for self and family. Without that balance, he said, the doctor will burn out and eventually leave.
Next month the Russells will leave another small community, in southern Utah near Bryce Canyon National Park, to move to Orcas, where he has accepted an offer from the Orcas Island Medical Center Association to open a family practice at the clinic. Russell and his wife Shelley chose Orcas because they feel its the ideal place in which to raise their four-year-old son, Drew, and because they enjoy the kinds of recreational activities Orcas has to offer -- hiking, biking and boating.
Russell recently spent a week and a half on Orcas learning about the financial situation at the clinic, meeting with physicians and mid-level practitioners who may be joining him there, and introducing himself to the community as a whole.
The meetings convinced him that there are health providers on the island who want to help him with his practice at the clinic. But no contracts have yet been finalized with prospective medical providers. They will have to be contracts that work for everybody, he said.
The meetings with the doctors were also intended to help Russell determine who I can work with, and who wants to work with me. I want a team of health providers, he explained, making it clear that there will be no place at the clinic for those who, he feels, are unlikely to be team players, saying those who create disharmony runs people off.
The new clinic physician is hoping that at least one of the doctors or mid-levels at the clinic will be a woman, saying that would be very important. He also indicated he would be open at some point to welcoming alternative providers to the clinic.
Russell realizes that it will be a challenge meeting all the communitys wishes within the realm of a private practice. He acknowledges that many islanders want 24/7 medical coverage, and its his goal to provide it. But, he asks rhetorically, How much service that the community wants can a doctor provide without losing his shirt?
Hes prepared to give it the old college try. Russell intends to promote the clinic and add services that get people to walk in the door, see whats available, and use it for their health care. I want to make the clinic a place people want to go to for health care, he says.