Doctor keeps promise
Dr. Brad Bibb didn't have to honor his promise, but he did anyway.
Bibb signed a community match program with the now-defunct Eastern Ozarks Regional Health System when he started medical school. Under the agreement, the hospital paid for his medical school in exchange for his agreeing to practice in Cherokee Village.
The hospital closed in December 2004 while Bibb was in residency, freeing him from his obligation. But he had already set his course.
"I decided seven years ago that I wanted to come up here," said the family practice physician whose medical clinic is slated to open in mid October (the exact date depends on when the contractor finishes construction). "It's a nice area, close to home."
Bibb, who finished residency at the Area Health Education Center in Jonesboro this spring, began his practice at the NEA Clinic in Jonesboro where he will continue seeing patients until the Cherokee Village Clinic opens.
A native of Lake City (outside Jonesboro), Bibb took just three years to complete a four-year degree in biology at ASU, graduating in 1999. He graduated from medical school at UAMS in 2003, then served a three-year residency in Jonesboro.
Bibb and his wife Cathy, who married in May, bought a home on Lake Omaha in Cherokee Village three months ago.
"I think there's a huge need here, with the aging population and the growing community," Bibb said. "There's a growing need for physicians and medical care."
The clinic, which is located behind EconoMed at the south entrance to the Village, benefits from its connection to NEA Health System, which includes the NEA Clinic and NEA Medical Center (formerly Methodist Hospital).
Jim Boswell, CEO of NEA Clinic, said patients will enjoy the "connectivity" the local clinic has with the NEA system.
"We have 30 different specialties and 90 physicians," he said.
With NEA's electronic filing system, records of services provided anywhere in the system are available to all other NEA physicians and clinics. Dr. Bibb can consult with specialists in Jonesboro about his local patients, and the clinic in the Village can get lab results and radiology results from Jonesboro.
Patients will sometimes be referred to the NEA Clinic, but the system makes it as convenient as possible. "When patients go to Jonesboro, they're not going to have to take their records," Boswell said. "They'll already have them."
Eventually, specialists will come to the Village clinic on a rotating basis, but no firm plans have been made yet, Boswell said.
Serving with Bibb at the Village clinic will be Lori Loechner, RN, of Cherokee Village and Amy Taylor of Hardy at the front desk. Additional staff will be added and the clinic expanded as needed, Boswell said.
The clinic expects to begin offering flu shots Oct. 16; patients are urged to call ahead.
NEA personnel handed out flu shot coupons at a reception at the North Recreation Center Oct. 6. The reception allowed Bibb, along with other NEA physicians, administrators and medical staff, to meet residents of Cherokee Village, Hardy, Highland and Ash Flat.
The reception also included free screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body mass index.
NEA Clinic has five primary care clinics in Jonesboro, with additional clinics in Lake City, Trumann, Osceola and Blytheville.
NEA Clinic was founded in Jonesboro in 1977 and in 2004 partnered with NEA Medical Center, an acute care, all private room hospital with 104 beds.
The Cherokee Village Clinic can be reached at 870-856-2862. Additional information is available at www.neaclinic.com.