'It's hard': Small town doctors wearily treat patients who are close friends and family

Doctor opens up about treating friends/family
Posted at 6:59 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 19:42:18-05

MALVERN, Iowa (KMTV) — The population in Mills County, Iowa is 15,000. In the town of Malvern, the population sits just over 1,000. The healthcare professionals in these small communities treat and lose patients that are friends and family, adding to the stresses already put on those in the medical community.

Dr. Thomas Baer is a practicing doctor at Malvern Medical Clinic. Dr. Bear has lived in Malvern for the majority of his life. He knows all of his patients on a personal level.

"Some people I've gone to school with and some people, my elderly patients, I remember them as adults," Dr. Baer said.

Not only does Dr. Baer personally know most of his patients, but he treats them like family. He writes personal letters to his patients after visits and is there for them until their last moments.

"I just had a patient die...and I would consider him a very close, personal friend," Dr. Baer said.

Although the city of Malvern only has a few cases, all of Mills County has a 14-day rolling positivity rate of 15 percent.

"It's hard. I think it's been particularly hard on our frontline workers," Mills County Health Director Julie Lynes said.

Lynes says something we all can do to make the process easier for medical professionals is take extra precautions and just like Dr. Baer, write a letter or two to show appreciation.

"It really makes a difference when somebody's working really hard if we can give them some acknowledgment," she said.

The Mills County Health Department is conducting a survey, collecting the public’s experience with COVID-19, and their feelings about upcoming vaccine availability on their Facebook page.

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