After completing his residency in Largo, Florida, Dr. Gene Childress began thinking of home — Lewis County, Missouri. As fate would have it, Lewistown was hoping to bring a doctor to town.
“We had been without a physician in the Lewistown area for 30 some years, and a recruiting committee was formed to help bring one to the area,” he shared. “I happened to stumble across some of the names on the recruiting committee while I was training in Florida. I knew two or three of them, so I just gave them a call and I asked, ‘Are you still recruiting for a physician?’ and they said ‘yeah,’ and I said, ‘Well, here’s my name.’”
Growing up in Lewistown, Dr. Childress was well known in town. He went through medical school on a public health scholarship, which required that he work in an underserved area. Lewis County fulfilled that for him, and, most importantly, let him come home.
“I thought if, after two years, I was struggling, I would move on. I thought I would be lucky if I saw 20 patients a day, and I started doing that the first week. I told myself, ‘This is going to work,’” he said.
That was in 1986 and he’s not practiced anywhere else. He said he has had a “fulfilling” career. Beyond the patients he’s seen at the Lewistown clinic, he’s made it his mission to improve all healthcare of the community overall.
This includes working with local nursing homes to become skilled-care facilities and helping with efforts to convert the Ambulance District from an all-volunteer-run organization to a full-time paramedic staff based at the ambulance base. He also worked closely with the local health department to improve access to care.
“In 1988, we started a home-health agency ran by the Lewis County Health Department, and we’re still active to this day. We have numerous patients that the health department does in-home care for currently,” he said.
Investing in his community and in healthcare are things he said had to be done.
“When I was in Vietnam and in the service, we did all that Air Evac and MASH type hospitals, so I was familiar with taking minimal and making maximum out of it and we made it work.”
Everything he’s done has been for his patients and the community he loves. His message to his patients is one of gratitude.
“They’ve meant a tremendous amount to me. The confidence they placed in my hands to lead them into proper healthcare is just amazing.”
Congratulations, Dr. Childress! To share your messages and memories, visit https://hipaa.jotform.com/213268686194164.