Generally, if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a yearly (at least) trip to the doctor is on your annual to-do list. Providing treatment for any number of cuts, scrapes, fractures or other maladies with which individuals can be afflicted, physicians are a pillar of the community.

For that continued support, medical practitioners will be celebrated today (Thursday) on National Doctors Day for their fervent work and contributions to society. Newton Medical Center will be doing its part to recognize doctors, with Chief Executive Officer Val Gleason noting management staff will personally deliver individualized gifts in thanks for outstanding service to the community, something administration looks for from the start.

"What's important is we find physicians who are excellent in their craft as well as physicians whose personalities and temperaments fit our community best," Gleason said. "We look for traits like kindness, patience, compassion and goodness. We look for those kinds of doctors specifically."

Knowing and understanding the community are also skills NMC seeks out among staff to help provide the best service possible.

Dr. Charles Craig, Chief Medical Officer, pointed out that three of the four doctors in his practice — Newton Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine — are from Kansas, so he sees how those traits can be beneficial.

"If you grew up in an area, then you learn how to speak the language and relate to the area more, too," Craig said. "I think that's true probably in a lot of communities in Kansas."

Along with fostering a strong, healthy community, doctors in Kansas overall are in a pretty healthy situation as well, with Kansas recently being named the fifth best state to practice medicine according to a study done by WalletHub. The study weighted 14 different factors, including average annual salary (Kansas was 14th highest), hospitals per capita (seventh highest) and annual malpractice liability insurance rates (third lowest), in determining the best environments.

Speaking to the latter, Craig noted Kansas is in a good a position because of the state's formation of the Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Company in 1988. Being physician run and a mutual company (with no investors) has allowed KaMMCO to keep rates low through the years. On top of that, Craig spoke to the strong relationship between physicians and hospitals also contributing to a stable work environment.

Newton Medical Center tries to mirror that locally, as Gleason attested to doctors throughout the facility coming to each others' aid immediately whenever called upon, doing all that they can to provide the best care for patients.

"That's one thing that we really appreciate about our medical staff is that our doctors bring their patients here and together we take care of them, but there are so many ways that our doctors help our hospital be more expert at affordable care," Gleason said. "The hospital just couldn't appreciate that any more. We're very lucky to have that kind of relationship with our doctors."

Craig was quick to note that relationship is a two-way street that administration has been great at maintaining in order to provide such care while knowing the financial limitations of those patients. Both Craig and Gleason were quick to point out there are some current challenges to providing such an environment coming from legislation, but Newton Medical Center and its doctors will not lose focus on maintaining the standards they have set.

Gleason said staff has recently been talking about what it truly means to be a community hospital, with a focus on having an impact beyond Newton Medical Center's four walls. Commitment and collaboration are key factors in that, both of which Gleason sees routinely among NMC staff, retired personnel and other area physicians.

"I think it would be impossible to find a doctor in this community who's not invested him or herself in the concerns of the greater community, the community that's beyond the four walls of the hospital or beyond the four walls of their own office practices," Gleason said. "There is so much time and effort devoted behind the scenes to the care of individuals and sub-populations of individuals in and around Newton; it would be mind-boggling for us to attempt to describe every effort that our medical staff is involved with in helping us navigate very choppy waters for a lot of patients who are extremely vulnerable and in need."

"We're deeply appreciative of our medical staff," Gleason said. "There are not words enough to express how appreciative this hospital is of the doctors we have in and around Newton."