May 18, 2003 - West Central Tribune Online: Botswana RPCV Richard Lundebrek joins medical staff at Benson Minnesota

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Botswana: Peace Corps Botswana : The Peace Corps in Botswana: May 18, 2003 - West Central Tribune Online: Botswana RPCV Richard Lundebrek joins medical staff at Benson Minnesota

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Botswana RPCV Richard Lundebrek joins medical staff at Benson Minnesota

Botswana RPCV Richard Lundebrek joins medical staff at Benson Minnesota

Community’s commitment to improved health care led new doctors to commit

By Tom Cherveny, Staff Writer

Tribune photo by Bill Zimmer

BENSON -- Benson faded away in Richard Lundebrek’s rearview mirror in 1985, the year he graduated from its high school.

Straight ahead was the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a stint with the Peace Corps in Botswana, and back to the Twin Cities for medical school and a residency at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

Karen Dorn never even had a glimpse of Benson when she started her life’s journey in Omaha, Neb. She lived in Texas before moving to the Twin Cities, where she also attended the University of Minnesota and its medical school.

It’s where the two met. Nine months ago, as husband and wife, they put the Twin Cities in their rearview mirror and Benson in their windshield. And to their surprise, made it their home.

“It was the smallest town that we had interviewed in,’’ said Dr. Richard Lundebrek, a 1997 U of M Medical School graduate and the newest family practitioner with the Affiliated Community Medical Centers in Benson.

Dr. Karen Dorn is a 1998 graduate of the U of M Medical School and the first internal medicine physician with the Benson ACMC clinic in Benson.

The arrival of the husband-wife medical team in Benson increased the local medical staff by 33 percent. They immediately provided welcome relief, said Frank Lawatsch, CEO of the Swift County-Benson Hospital. A team of two family practice physicians and two certified nurse practitioners had carried the load while the community and hospital recruited help.

“We’re just very excited about their being here,’’ he said.

So are the new doctors, who considered opportunities in larger rural communities like Bemidji, Brainerd, and Ashland, Wis., before choosing Benson, population 3,376.

A lot of factors led to their decision, said the two, but one thing certainly mattered above all else: The message they read in the community’s decision to invest $2.4 million in a hospital renovation and expansion.

“It’s the fact that the community cared so much about the hospital,’’ said Dorn. “We felt that they cared about the medical care they were receiving.’’

Work had not yet begun on the renovations when the two physicians interviewed here, but they knew the commitment was real. Lundebrek’s mother, Jan, was among the volunteers who helped raise more than $920,000 in local contributions toward the project.

Nine months into their new practices, both are enjoying the tangible benefits of a modern health care facility. They appreciate the improved surroundings and access to modern medical technology, such as an on-site CT scanner. There’s no longer a need to stick a patient in an ambulance for an anxious ride to Willmar when a CT scan is needed on any of the six days of the week that the mobile unit wasn’t parked outside.

If access to gee-whiz technology matters, so does something very old-fashioned: A friendly and dedicated staff of fellow health care providers. “I absolutely love the people we work with,’’ said Dorn.

Other factors also influenced their choice. The ACMC compensation package was competitive, according to Lundebrek. He also noted that the hospital provides help that limits the amount of call time he must serve, and spares Dorn the duty.

Both of the physicians wanted a rural practice. Lundebrek likes the greater independence, flexibility and challenges of being a family practitioner in a rural setting. “I really do have to call upon knowledge from all areas of medical care,’’ he said.

He said his wife probably had more trepidation in making the decision than he did, and he’s right. Dorn said she had in mind a small, rural community of about 50,000 when she thought of a rural practice.

Lundebrek grew up on a farm north of Benson in Pope County and had a better feel for what life in the rural community was about.

He also took the job knowing that the Benson of 2003 is different than the one he left behind 18 years ago, when the rural economy and population were in decline. The community is growing today, and that brings with it a sense of optimism that is easy to feel, Lundebrek said.

And yet, Benson also remains very much a rural community. Lundebrek is more than happy to give up the long, frustrating Twin Cities commute he once knew for a quiet, eight-mile ride from country home to office. He has planted a large garden and is happy to report that he sees more wildlife in his yard just a few miles outside of Benson than he once saw living in the African bush country.

Dorn also enjoys the rural lifestyle and appreciates above all else the friendly nature of the people who are now her neighbors.

Both know that other rural communities offer these attributes as well.Lundebrek said the decision on where to practice comes after all the factors are considered, “and you just make the decision that feels right at the time.’’

Without any doubt, said Dorn, the decision by the Benson community to invest in the hospital made their decision a much easier one.

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Story Source: West Central Tribune Online

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Botswana; Medicine



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