By JOANNE BANUELOS
South County Magazine, November 2010
Attending Mee Memorial Hospital’s King City Chamber Mixer I met a delightful new doctor, Antonio Viscarra. He arrived excited and happily only 90 days ago. I wanted to talk to Dr. Viscarra at length about his practice which is family practice, however, he had to rush off. Seems to rescue Nelson, a parrot, that had escaped from his cage. Getting to know Dr. Viscarra would have to wait for another day. That “other day” came.
Medical school friends Actually so much is happening at Mee Memorial Hospital (MMH) that it’s hard to know where to begin. Antonio (Tony) came to visit a very good friend, Dr. John Fejes, OBGYN, who has been practicing and living here. Tony enjoyed his visit so much he decided to bring the family, wife Isabel, and son Emerson, and Nelson the parrot to live here, too. Tony and Dr. Fejes were classmates in medical school. Dr. Viscarra came from El Salvador, at the early age of 11 and is a very compassionate man.
When folks settle here the first thing they are asked by us is “why?” and Dr. Viscarra said it was Dr. John Fejes who insisted his good friend move here. Viscarra said the quality of life here is unsurpassable. “Mee Memorial is very, very good as far as creating a nice environment for physicians.” Directly responsible for that is MMH’s CEO Lex Smith.
Time for family life Available family time is a big factor for Viscarra. Having a tank half full of gas for a month tells you how much he loves being here and he can have lunch and dinner with his family every day. He said he doesn’t miss the traffic congestion and long hours, in Fresno and at the clinic, where there was a goal to see as many patients as possible.
“Yes, this is a pretty good life.” The family is expecting a baby in April and since they haven’t found out if it’s a boy or girl, they call it “Heshe,” until they know for sure. Kinda Japanese sounding I think. With the doctor’s birthday April 12, Heshe would be a great birthday gift.
History of Mee and its goals Smith’s management style is part of the physician- friendly environment Dr. Viscarra speaks of. Smith arrived only 20 months ago and, along with the board, established the goals of 2010.
The hospital’s turn around began in May 2007, when CEO Walter Beck stepped down. The Wellspring Partners arrived after engineering a financial turnaround of the Natividad Medical in Salinas. At the time MMH was looking at a $16 million loan to refinance their debt. However, the board decided new management combined with an in-depth analysis of operations would need to be addressed. With the arrival of Mike French, interim CEO, the consulting firm led the hospital out of financial crisis. Once on its feet Smith began the three-year goals: Achieving and maintaining financial viability; expanding hospital services; providing quality care and continued accreditation; and attracting, developing and retaining professional medical staff.
Quality of life The medical professional staff part brings me back to Dr. Viscarra and his family medicine. He also provides palliative care. The doctor offers a pain management treatment and medical care plan for those who deal with serious illness to assist doctors, nurses or social workers who specialize in the relief of pain symptoms and stress. His intention is to make quality of life the best it can be and for patients to be able to live in their home, rather in the hospital when they have a terminal disease.
Patients are very fortunate to have Dr. Viscarra and our other physicians living here and working at Mee. Welcome Doctor Viscarra to our sense of community in King City.
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