It’s time to go

Former CN&R editor says farewell

The author, an independent consultant, was editor of the CN&R from 2006-09.

The United States has a physician shortage. I know this firsthand, not just because I recently wrote a story on the subject for the CN&R’s Healthlines section, but also because I’m the husband of a pediatrician.

My wife, Amy Dolinar, and I came to Chico in 2006. Enloe Medical Center recruited her to fill the void expected as doctors in their mid- to late-60s began retiring. We saw this as the place where she could become a “generational pediatrician”—treating kids who would later bring their kids to her. Added bonus: Amy would be a colleague of her childhood physician, Pat Tedford.

Life doesn’t always work out as planned. The economic downturn altered retirement plans. Amy’s practice closed, and after 18 months at the Enloe Children’s Health Center, further changes made her receptive to outside overtures.

One came from Memphis, Mo. Memphis— in Missouri’s northeast corner, near Iowa and Illinois—is the home of Scotland County Hospital, a critical-access facility serving five counties that also attracts patients from across the state line. Family-practice doctors have cared for children; Amy will blaze a new trail in pediatrics.

Memphis is a town out of The Music Man or Waiting for Guffman: close-knit, friendly, passionate about the arts, sports and the great outdoors. Scotland County is rural and somewhat isolated, though no farther from a big city than Chico is from Sacramento.

Professional, financial and lifestyle considerations made the offer one we couldn’t refuse. Still, this was a difficult decision. We love Chico as well as Paradise, where we bought a house and I ran for school board. We have family and close friends here. Butte County has been good to us.

But, to quote one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Michelle Shocked (whom I got to see perform at the El Rey), the secret to a long life is knowin’ when it’s time to go.

The Golden State seems more and more like the Pyrite State. Budget problems in the Capitol not only lead to cuts in state services but also prompt raids on local coffers that cut into city and county services.

Health care, of particular import to Amy and me, hasn’t escaped the hatchet. Moreover, state law prohibiting hospitals from hiring physicians directly makes it hard for medical centers to match out-of-state opportunities.

I know that California is not the only state in fiscal crisis. What seems different here is the entrenched dysfunctionality of Sacramento, which makes all sorts of problems hard to solve.

The grass looks greener on the other side of the country. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. We’ll let you know!