UPHS-Marquette taking care in right direction

How well I remember moving to Marquette in June 1982 to begin my residency in family medicine at Marquette General Hospital. I had just graduated from medical school and was so ready to begin the next stage of medical education.

Indeed, I began this experience with three other resident interns, essentially spending the next three years in the hospital delivering babies, admitting patients from the ED, scrubbing in with surgeons in the operating room, managing emergencies day and night, and caring for patients during the day both in the hospital and at our outpatient office in the Peninsula Medical Center.

Those were exciting times for us young residents; so much learning took place as we became immersed into the many life stories of patients and their families as they traveled through the entire spectrum in health care from birth to death.

We were witness to many life-saving surgeries and medical therapies by gifted teaching physicians, along with the superb daily work of talented, caring nurses and other health care professionals throughout our health care system.

Those early years convinced me that this was the place to stay, to work and to raise my family. I have no regrets. And now, it is so wonderful to see this same lifecycle continue for our family medicine residents who come to train at our hospital out of medical schools around the country.

We have UP Health System-Marquette to thank for this. Just like Marquette General Hospital before, this could not happen without the firm commitment of the hospital administration in providing the financial support and space to run a physician education program.

A regional hospital cannot hope to continue to renew itself without such support firmly in place. And not only do we have a family medicine residency program here, we have a campus of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine as well, graduating 12 students each year who go on to train in many different medical specialties. Many have returned to practice medicine in Marquette and throughout the U.P.

Among this year’s medical school graduates will be four future internists, two family physicians, two general surgeons, a pediatrician, an emergency physician, an ophthalmologist, and a thoracic surgeon. Of that group, half are U.P. natives and others have strong ties to the U.P. We expect to see many return. Among the six family medicine resident graduates this year, three will remain in the U.P. to practice.

We are very fortunate for the vision that Marquette community leaders, physicians and hospital administrators had in the 1970s to develop our community hospital into a regional medical center with the goal of caring for the citizens of the Upper Peninsula.

That vision was prophetic as our foundational heart, cancer, orthopedic and neurology programs developed thanks to the success of recruiting young, talented physicians to Marquette, physicians who were ready and willing to work the long hours necessary to get our regional medical center up and running.

And much like the commitment we saw in the ’70s, the new hospital rising in the center of Marquette is a testament to the commitment of our current community leaders, physicians and hospital administrators.

The goals and values we all share — that we can continue providing top notch health care right here in the Upper Peninsula — have not left. The ability and desire to train and recruit terrific physicians who want to practice here in the U.P. has not changed.

We all know that health care is going through terrific change. Survival for many means being managed by large health care corporations. This is now a fact of life. We are fortunate that the corporation that bought Marquette General Hospital (Duke LifePoint Healthcare) was able to fully fund its pension plan, have the willingness to commit $300-plus million to build a modern, new hospital and continue the support of our physician education programs.

All of this is a vote of confidence in our future as we remain committed to serving the citizens of the Upper Peninsula in the same fashion envisioned by our previous leaders.

The new hospital will be our community and regional hospital, and we cannot lose sight of the fact that we need a regional hospital right here, right now. Fortunately, we have a very good one along with the support we need for our future growth.

I anticipate many well trained, top notch physicians, nurses and other health care professionals will continue to choose to come here to live, care for us when needed, and enjoy all that life has to offer in this amazing corner of the world. In fact, today more than 2,000 of our sons, daughters, friends and neighbors have their careers at this health care facility.

And now, as our community and regional hospital navigates the changing national health care landscape, they need our support more than ever.

Let us all stand beside UPHS-Marquette and keep quality care close to home for our future generations.

Editor’s note: William Short, MD, former community assistant dean for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Upper Peninsula Region, recently retired after more than 30 years in medical education.

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