Hatteberg's People - Dr. Wade Turner

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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August 28, 2011

Some just talk about problems, others believe actions should go with the talk. In Winfield, Dr. Wade Turner sees a health care system that needs new blood in rural areas. So, he decided to do something special to call attention to the rural doctor shortage. And at the same time keep fit.

"I'm thoroughly enjoying my life in Winfield."

Dr. Wade Turner has been practicing medicine in Winfield since 1992.

"Hello Zach, have you used this before?

But medicine isn't the only thing he's been practicing.

So what does swimming and doctoring have in common.

"It's a crazy idea to make people think about a bigger problem."

The 'bigger' problem is, small communities like Winfield, have a difficult time attracting doctors.

"Some people I've taken care of since I've been here...for 19 years."

Dr. Turner practices here, in a modern building directly across from Winfield's only hospital.

"I think that is problem in attracting young physicians, they see that there is probably more security in being in a big system, like a Via Christi or a Kaiser or any of those huge systems around the country.

They see that as a safer place to be."

To focus attention to the problem in a unique way, Dr. Turner decided he would swim the Straits of Gibraltar. Practicing here in his home pool, he is doing it In cooperation with the William Newton Healthcare Foundation. The swim not only promotes physical fitness, but also points out that there are rocky waters in the rural health care industry.

"The swim is twelve miles, it's from Europe to Africa, from the tip of Spain to Morocco. It has lots of current. Six hours should get it, barring anything the ocean throws at me that's going to shut me down."

Winfield is a town of 12,500 in Cowley County and it faces the same challenge of other small and rural communities. Attracting first-rate doctors to get close enough to smell the future.

"What we know is, is that if we can get them to look, the lifestyle here...it is good. But just getting them to think that rural Kansas is a great place to be, is a little tough to sell sometimes."

For Dr. Turner, the advantages of a large city, are not in its many hospitals.

"In a big town, some of these specialists will 'round' or visit patients in three or four hospitals per day. I cannot imagine doing that. You don't get to do things in the big city, that I get to do for patients here."

In just a couple days Dr. Turner will head to Spain to swim the 12 miles from Europe to Africa. This video on the right is from a group in Spain who supports the efforts of swimmers like Dr. Turner. This swim is similar to what he will face."

"I can donate the swim, maybe do some good, and have some fun at the same time."

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