Dr. Larry Kipe, a family physician at Moffat Family Clinic, recently was named as this year's recipient of the Gus Garcia Distinguished Physician High Plains Walking Stick Award. The award recognizes a physician who "exemplifies the best in family medicine."

Photo by Jerry Raehal

Dr. Larry Kipe, a family physician at Moffat Family Clinic, recently was named as this year's recipient of the Gus Garcia Distinguished Physician High Plains Walking Stick Award. The award recognizes a physician who "exemplifies the best in family medicine."

Another decoration for local doc

Family physician Larry Kipe earns Walking Stick Award


— Recently named the winner of a prestigious state award, Dr. Larry Kipe has tossed around a few thoughts about what he might say if asked to give a speech.

But, winning the award hasn't quite sunk in yet, he said. Therefore, the right words are hard to come by right now.

"I'm in awe," said Kipe, 53, a longtime family physician at Moffat Family Clinic. "I know some of the people who have gotten that award.

"I think it'll seem a little more unreal as we get closer to the time."

On Tuesday, the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center's School of Medicine named Kipe recipient of the Gus Garcia Distinguished Physician High Plains Walking Stick Award.

"We recognize your outstanding contributions in rural family medicine since 1984 and in Craig : since 1989," the Department wrote to Kipe in a letter.

The annual award is presented to a family physician who has practiced in Colorado for 20 years or more, attained "positive role recognition" in the medical and local communities and "exemplifies the best in family medicine, teaching medical students and residents and community service."

"It's a very prestigious award," said Mary Jo Bush, of the school's Department of Family Medicine. "He's one of our star practitioners."

The award, symbolized by an Osage Orange walking stick, will be presented to Kipe on May 22 on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. He also will receive a plaque and $1,000 check.

The honor is another decoration in a long line of them for Kipe. He graduated with a medical degree from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1981 and finished his residency in 1984 while stationed at U.S. Air Force Regional Hospital, on the Carswell Air Force Base in Forth Worth, Texas.

He also has practiced in Wyoming and Turkey and served as the vice president, president, legislative and executive committee member of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians. He currently is the academy's board chairman.

The academy, an organization that includes about 1,900 members, is a group designed to work on behalf of "ensuring access to comprehensive and cost-effective health care for families across the state."

Kipe, who's long been an advocate for universal health care, said he's encouraged by recommendations from a blue ribbon state commission addressing shortfalls in health care coverage. Still, he said a solution isn't happening fast enough.

"I'm very impatient," he said. "I want a fix tomorrow."

Originally from Houston, Kipe said a family physician in his youth inspired him to become a doctor.

"I was looking for something I could make a decent living at and still help people," Kipe said. He added, "What I particularly like about family medicine is the variety - you see something different every day."

He said he "appreciates what a privilege it is to practice" medicine and plans to keep working for another 10 years.

Teaching the next generation of doctors, Kipe said, is another benefit of the profession. He tutors six to eight medical school students a year at the clinic for about a month each.

A shortage of family doctors is a "nationwide problem," Kipe said, and one that Craig and Moffat County soon could be facing. Several local doctors are on the cusp of retiring or moving out of the area, he said.

"We're actually going to be in crisis shortly," Kipe said. "We're trying like crazy (to recruit new doctors) and so is the hospital."

The Department of Family Medicine initiated the award in 1994.

The idea for using the walking stick originated with a retired medical school faculty member, F.A. "Gus" Garcia, who saw a "symbolism between the hardiness of the osage orange bush that grew in the Great Plains in the 1800s and the hardiness of the general family practitioner who practiced in rural areas," according to the award's history.

Garcia thought the bush had to be "tough and resilient to withstand the draught, Dust Bowl and other weather conditions," the document reports. "Likewise, a family physician has to be tough and hardy to survive in rural areas."


oldsage 9 years ago

Oh yea, I can hear the people now, "Before we move to let's look to see if they have a urology specialist in Craig. No podiatrists, we just are not going to move there. I'm not moving there with out a good parasitologist or a good proctolagist."

If you were to give the desired doctors a signing bonus to move here and stay for ten years of say a hundred thousand dollars I don't think there would be any problem strengthening the medical community in any direction you wanted. And it would not cost 150 million or so over the life of the bonds for that wonderful new facility!


grannyrett 9 years ago

oldsage-When most people move to a new community, they check it out. If they currently have medical problems, you bet, they are going to check out the doctors. As our population ages, there will be more and more people with chronic health problems. They do not want to have to drive 150-200 miles to receive quality health care. Good doctors require good facilities. Ask your doctor what he/she thinks about the hospital. After all, they are the ones who will be practicing there.


grannyrett 9 years ago

Native-You are right. Good doctors will not come here if there are not up to date medical centers to treat their patients. Many patients go to Steamboat Springs because they have those facilities. We don't. With a new hospital, we will attract new doctors. Many people who now go to Steamboat will stay in Craig for their care. That has got to help improve the bottom line. There are always going to be those who will throw their fits because they didn't get their way, but the majority of the voters opted for a new hospital and some cannot do anything but whine because they didn't get their way.


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