Kathleen "K.C." Keating began work Monday as Valley Heath Center's new OB/GYN. Keating, originally from Denver, attended medical school in Kansas City, Mo., before moving to Craig.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Kathleen "K.C." Keating began work Monday as Valley Heath Center's new OB/GYN. Keating, originally from Denver, attended medical school in Kansas City, Mo., before moving to Craig.

Valley Health Center's new OB/GYN begins work

— The halls of Craig's Valley Health Center are much different than a refugee camp in Africa, however, Dr. Kathleen "K.C." Keating applies her medical philosophy equally in both places.

"I like the emphasis on giving care to everyone, and I really want that interaction with the patient," Keating said.

The new OB/GYN joined Dr. Scott Ellis at Valley Health Center in The Memorial Hospital, fresh out of her residency at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver.

Keating attended Beloit College in Wisconsin for her undergraduate degree. She then traveled abroad to Uganda to study rural health care and infectious diseases.

It was there she realized she didn't want to go into just any kind of public health care.

"I just really wanted interaction with the patient," she said. "And I realized I wanted to help women and go into obstetrics."

While attending medical school at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Keating joined the National Health Services Corps, which is a group of physicians with a goal to provide service to the medically underserved.

The program reimburses physicians for their school in return for placement in a rural health care facility for two to four years.

The program was ideal for Keating, who, since her stint in Uganda, wanted to help those who had the greatest medical need.

Having been born in Denver, Keating always wanted to stay in Colorado but had trouble finding a placement that would keep her here after her residency at St. Joseph was completed.

"I called up Colorado Rural Health Center and said, 'Please, is there some place for me to go in Colorado,'" she said. "And they put me in touch with people here. I was definitely looking at going to the Western Slope."

She said she wanted to live near the mountains, but not in a resort town because she wanted a community-oriented, small-town feel.

"It's amazing how nice people are here," she said. "It's only my second day, and everyone's great about showing me the ropes. It's just a very happy time for me."

While the challenges of working in Craig are much different from those in a Ugandan refugee camp, there are challenges nonetheless.

She said rural health centers often work with limited resources, but thinks TMH's new facility will help remedy that.

Keating said the new hospital was a big selling point of moving to Craig.

TMH's new building will be ready for use in mid-November. It features three delivery rooms, each of which is a significant improvement in size and technology from the old building.

She said the investment in the new hospital showed that the community cared about its citizens and showed an interest in growing its health care.

"It really let me know that people are proud and happy about their neighborhood and their neighbors," she said. "It feels like people here are ready to continue growing."

And Keating is looking forward to being a part of that growth. One of the best parts about a small town health care center is its connection to patients and their families, she said.

"It really allows for that continuity of care," she said. "You get to take care of a patient when they have their first baby and watch them grow and mature. You watch them deal with the things that happen with their lives. That intimacy is important to me."

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