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MEEKER I Pioneers Medical Center’s (PMC) and “Blazin’ Trails: Journey to a Healthier Me” meet and greet on March 23 for new doctors, other clinic providers and staff was a booming success, by all accounts.
Hospital Administrator Ken Harman urged participants to reconnect with the other providers and healthcare workers in attendance.
Introduced to the Meeker crowd were general surgeon Dr. Asem Bakkar, family physician Dr. Tessa Landa, certified physician assistant Heather Wood and therapy staffers Julie and Dan Drake. Meeker’s hometown orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kevin Borchard, was unable to attend. Also unable to attend was Dr. Dan Ward, Borchard’s partner with Northwest Colorado Orthopedic and Total Joint Center at PMC.
Dr. Bakkar began at PMC in early February. After spending 10 years working in the corporate IT world in Denver, Bakkar completed medical school at the American University of Integrated Sciences, Sint Maarten School of Medicine and then seven years of residency at Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix. He grew up north of Seattle, Wash., did a stint in the U.S. Marines, and then earned his undergraduate degree from his father’s alma mater, the University of Wyoming.
Bakkar is a specialist in rural general surgery and is doing minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures, when he can, on the appendix, colon, small bowel, hernias and gallbladder as well as burn and wound treatments. He emphasizes that he is a person, like his patients, not just a number in the phone book. He describes rural medicine as “the ability to provide professional services to a community under the grounds of relationship medicine.” Dr. Bakkar’s wife, Bonnie, who is finishing her nursing degree in Phoenix, a 13-year-old son, Ashiono, and 10-year-old daughter Asemah will join him here as soon as they can.
Dr. Landa has just arrived at PMC after finishing her residency in internal medicine, pediatrics and women’s health at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Florida and her doctorate from their College of Medicine. She claims to have a passion for small town medicine, cross-country skiing, hiking and horseback riding. She’s living with her nearly year-old daughter, Georgia, and their Labrador retriever, Cooper.
Heather Wood, a certified physician assistant, specializes in emergency care and is now also part of PMC’s chronic disease management team. She hails from an 860-bed hospital in Missouri. She’s anxious to get to know her patients and she, too, emphasizes relationship medicine wherein “the person, not the symptoms, is her priority.”
Wood has her masters in physician assistant studies from Missouri State University and was a certified nurse assistant and medical assistant before becoming a P.A. Prior to that, she studied music and business at the University of Arkansas. She is accompanied in Meeker by her husband, Don, and 5-year-old daughter Alexandria.
Julie and Dan Drake are a therapy team all unto themselves. Coming to Meeker from Atwood, Kan., the Drakes have historic connections to Yampa, Colo.
Julie will serve as the PMC occupational therapist. She has approximately 16 years experience in a large hospital setting, working for a rural hospital and providing occupational therapy for rural school districts. She will treat PMC in-patients through the therapy department as well as home health patients.
Dan will join the team as a physical therapist assistant. He had experience as a rehabilitation aide before pursuing his physical therapy assistant certification.
Christer Ljungqvist, the PMC therapy/rehabilitation manager, said, “We are excited to have Julie and Dan on our team. Julie’s broad experience will be a terrific asset and Dan has a passion for youth sports and sports therapy.”
“Blazin’ Trails: Journey to a Healthier Me” is a free community wellness program sponsored by PMC. Blazin Trails is in its fourth year providing a variety of health tips and coaching to more than 200 people.