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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

New doctors in Thayer

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Husband and wife Leann Benson and Gary Finke have opened an office in Thayer, Mo. Benson practices internal medicine and Finke is a pediatrician.
As of Jan. 4, the husband and wife team of Doctors Leann Benson and Garry Finke will be working at the Southern Missouri Community Health Center in West Plains and the Oregon County Community Health Center in Thayer.

Benson practices internal medicine and Finke is a pediatrician. They said they plan to make this area their home.

Funding to hire Benson comes from the community health centers budgets. Funding for Finke's job comes through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stimulus grant.

Southern Missouri Community Health Center and Oregon County Community Health Center operate under the Rural Alliance for Better Family Health, that organization receiving $164,982 to be used over two years to help pay the salaries of staff members, including Finke.

Rural Alliance for Better Family Health CEO Pat Richards of West Plains says the clinics haven't had a pediatrician on staff.

Benson's hiring will allow it to administer care to internal medicine patients more quickly by relieving the workload of Dr. Jeffrey Dryden, currently the alliance's only internal medicine doctor, Richards added.

In an interview, the couple said they were in Kenya for two years, working as medical missionaries at a 250-bed hospital in Kijabe, and returned to the United States in November. The mission was through the Samaritan's Purse program, a non-denominational worldwide Christian ministry. The work was voluntary, but the two received a small stipend, Benson said. She kept her maiden name to avoid delays and extra paperwork involved in applying for a passport to Kenya, but soon will take her husband's name, she said.

Finke graduated from high school in Tullahoma, Tenn., in 1996, then earned his undergraduate degree at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. He went to medical school at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2004. He said he did his three-year residency in Memphis-area hospitals, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and LeBonheur Children's Hospital.

Benson also did her residency in Memphis, and that is where the two met. Benson went to elementary school in Alton and graduated from Doniphan High School in 1997. She got her undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and went to medical school there, graduating in 2003. She earned a Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri (PRIMO) scholarship, a program that lends money to medical or behavioral health students and gives them a chance to have the debt forgiven by contracting to practice medicine in an area of Missouri with a shortage of health professionals, in this case the community health clinics in West Plains and Thayer.

Her parents, Randy and Libby Benson, live at Doniphan; her brother, Shane, lives at Alton; and her other brother, Andy, lives at Ozark.

Finke's parents, John and Donna, live in Tennessee, and his brother, Barry, lives in Lynchburg, Va. The two plan to make their home here, she said.

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