CompHealth is celebrating 40 years! Since 1979, we’ve been staffing healthcare providers throughout the country, making a difference for patients, the providers themselves, and the communities in which they live and serve. Read on for locum tenens stories from five providers whose work has impacted the lives of so many others.
Sponsoring a Native American youth cross-country team
Dr. Russ Reinbolt literally ran into an opportunity to give back to a small Navajo community while on a locum tenens assignment in Chinle, Arizona.
The marathon-running emergency medicine physician was out for a run through Canyon de Chelly National Monument when he met Shaun Martin, the high school athletic director and cross country team coach.
“Several years ago, while on a run in the canyon, [Shaun] came up with the idea of starting a race called The Canyon de Chelly Ultra. The 55K event exists primarily to showcase this natural wonder up close. Secondarily, it raises funds benefiting the Chinle High School Cross Country teams and Native American Youth running programs,” Dr. Reinbolt explains on ultramarathondoc.com.
Inspired by Shaun’s story about how the Canyon de Chelly Ultra event provided new shoes to an athlete whose shoes were stolen before a race, Dr. Reinbolt immediately donated $1,000 to the team. He also worked with CompHealth to donate 100 Chinle High School-branded backpacks for current and future cross-country team members to use.
Dr. Reinbolt continues to advocate for the Canyon de Chelly Ultra event on his website and says he’s inspired by the Chinle cross-country team. Many students have earned college scholarships, and the team is a “perennial Arizona state running powerhouse.”
“Many Navajo kids face challenges of low income, housing without running water or adequate heat sources, and substance abuse, but running can help these kids in so many ways,” Dr. Reinbolt says. “Running teaches the invaluable life lessons of the value of hard work, self-sacrifice and discipline. It gives them hope. It teaches them respect for themselves and for others.”
Identifying a rare genetic disorder impacting an entire family
When neurologist Dr. Kathleen Klotz was on a locum tenens assignment in a Louisville, Kentucky, suburb, she didn’t expect a tragedy to deliver life-saving news to a family.
A 46-year-old man with a broken ankle had been admitted to the emergency room with severe shortness of breath. A CT scan revealed he had a pulmonary embolism closing off both his left and right lung, causing the breathing problems and eventually stopping his heart. An ultrasound also showed a long blood clot in his leg that had broken off and gone to his lungs. The man was now on life support, and the family had to decide whether to continue it.
Called in to determine if the patient was brain dead, Dr. Klotz sent off a test to examine the man’s blood-clotting proteins. The next day, the test revealed a rare blood-clotting factor, which meant the man didn’t have the natural blood-thinner he needed to prevent clots.
“The family was assembled in the ICU, and I told the man’s brother about the results of the test. He said, ‘I had a blood clot in my lungs last year’,” Dr. Klotz recalls. “I asked if anyone else in the family had rare blood-clotting problems and discovered their father had died from a stroke (which can be caused by blood clots).”
Dr. Klotz spoke to other family members there and recommended they be tested for the disorder, allowing them to begin treatments that could prevent similar tragedies in the future.
When she spoke to the man’s wife, she thanked Dr. Klotz for discovering that a broken ankle hadn’t caused his death. “She started crying, and I was getting teary-eyed,” Dr. Klotz says. “It was an amazing moment in the midst of a terrible tragedy to discover a possible explanation for it.”
Making time for medical missions in Peru
Dr. Carlos Arauco says his career choice as an obstetrician/gynecologist was inspired by years spent in his native Peru as a Methodist missionary.
“I saw poverty, people who didn’t have much help,” Dr. Arauco recalls. “I think that inspired me to become a physician in the first place.”
Years later, Dr. Arauco decided to close his practice in Missouri, sell his home, and return to Peru to focus on medical missions there — but a call about locum tenens opportunities changed everything.
“I had to come back to the states to sell my house, and I received a call from CompHealth about some locum tenens work in Branson, Missouri,” Dr. Arauco says. “I said, ‘Sure, I can do that.’”
Without the burden of managing a private practice and a more flexible work schedule, an arrangement that lets Dr. Arauco continue to care for patients in the U.S. and return to Peru frequently for medical missions was ideal.
“I get personal satisfaction when I help somebody. It’s as simple as that,” he says. “When I do something good for somebody, it makes me feel better as a physician and a missionary.”
RELATED: How to serve a medical mission
Advocating for children as a teacher and pediatrician
After 13 years as a high school teacher, Dr. Beverly Ricker decided to pursue the career she’d long been interested in: pediatrics.
“I really couldn’t see my way clear to go to medical school until my children were older,” Dr. Ricker says. “At age 40, I quit teaching and went to medical school, because at that point they were independent enough for me to do it.”
Her love for children and passion for advocating for them has served her well as a pediatrician, especially with newborns. She recalls time spent in a courtroom protecting a baby from an abusive family and values this aspect of her job.
“I’m there for the family too but primarily I’m there for the child, to make sure they have the best outcome and the best future they can have,” Dr. Ricker says. “I had my own two children before I went into pediatrics, and then I went to med school and learned a lot about babies. To me, they’re the most precious, beautiful things in the world. They are so innocent and so perfect, and even when they’re not perfect, they’re beautiful.”
When she’s not taking care of children at hospitals around the country, she’s caring for her own grandchildren — and locum tenens gives her the flexibility to spend more time with them.
“It’s made family life actually much easier, to be working on, working off so that I can be there for them.”
Caring for family while connecting with new patients
Dr. Norman Baron was nearing retirement age when his son, who lived far away, became severely ill. He quickly realized that continuing his current job was no longer an option.
“I was unable to continue working effectively at the clinic I was at. I needed too much time off. I needed to — in an instant — not be there. That’s hard for any clinic to accept,” Dr. Baron recalls.
After retiring, Dr. Baron began to miss his interactions with patients and started looking for another way to practice medicine again.
“I happened to notice there was an opening where my son lived, and that opening took me to CompHealth,” he says. “Sure, I could retire and pick up my carpentry hobby, but I tried to do that and missed that intimate touch of being part of somebody’s life. So often and in so many different ways throughout the experience of one work day, I can’t tell you how many lives I touch. That’s a privilege I don’t really want to give up.”
Dr. Baron continues to take locum tenens jobs with CompHealth and enjoy the career he says he was meant to do.
“I know I was put here on this earth to be a physician,” Dr. Baron expresses.
40 years of locum tenens
Throughout the past 40 years, CompHealth has played an important role in improving provider and patient lives and advancing locum tenens in the healthcare industry. We’re thankful for the many healthcare providers who work with us and share their locum tenens stories.
How has locum tenens impacted your life? Share your story in the comments below.