As Granite Falls Affiliated Community Medical Center’s only full time physicians, Doctor’s Art Rillo, Darrell Carter, and Ken Carter hardly have time to pause to accept the gratitude of patients and co-workers at ACMC and the Granite Falls Hospital and Manor. While backed by dedicated staff at the clinic and hospital, the trio of rural practitioners share a unique responsibility as the experts and leaders of the facilities, working grueling, albeit rewarding, shifts day in and day out. Invariably, the doctors would tell you the truest form of thanks comes through the healthy and happy bodies of the friends and neighbors within the community they call home, but that alone makes the collective “thanks” offered annually by Doctor’s Day simply all the more appropriate.
Doctor’s Day falls on Friday, March 30th, providing an opportunity for patients and coworkers to express their appreciation for the high quality health care that would not be possible without the dedication of Dr. Darrell, Dr. Ken, or Dr. Rillo. First observed on March 30th, 1933, Doctor’s Day marks the date that Crawrford W. Long, M.D., administered the first ether anesthetic for surgery on March 30th, 1842. On that day, Dr. Long administered ether anesthesia to a patient and then operated to remove a tumor from the man’s neck. That patient would later swear that he felt nothing during the surgery and wasn’t aware the surgery was over until he awoke. On October 30th, 1990, President George Bush signed a bill into law designating March 30th as “National Doctor’s Day” with the red carnation commonly used as the symbolic flower for that day.
Talking to co-workers at the Granite Falls Hospital, a handful of the doctor’s dedicated counterparts provided insight to the level of care made possible by the three physicians while acknowledging a few of the aspects that they have come to admire most working side-by-side the professionals. Each proved to be known for their special contribution to the rural hospital and clinic and worthy of equal thanks. “In this community, we know who the doctors are and they’re all approachable,” said Registered Nurse (RN) Jennifer Monson. “They’re willing to give of their time and talents no matter where they are and I think that’s a big thing in any small community, just having that more personal relationship with your physicians. You know their family members, with Dr. Rillo I know there are times when there’s things that he has to miss out on with his family just because of the job that he does, there are things they all have to miss out on. Really, I don’t know how they do it,” she continued, “I don;t know how their wives do it. I don’t know how their families do it.”
With over 40 years in the community, Dr. Ken Cater is the longest serving of Granite Falls’ three doctors, practicing family medicine in Granite Falls ince 1970 with a special interest in geriatrics and preventative medicine. In 1982, he was instrumental in initiating Home Health Care through GFMHM and is currently the director of Home Health Care. In addition, he has been instrumental in the development of the tele-stroke protocol, a telemedicine system that connects the hospital with a tertiary care center, and more recently the Palliative Care project.
Dr. Rillo is the youngest of the three, serving the community as the clinic’s only obstetrician cine 1997. Working with all ages, he is given all the credit in the world for being on call 24-7, always prepared to bring life into the world.
Dr. Darrell Carter will celebrate his 40th year in Granite Falls this year and is recognized nationally for his contributions to the health care field. He has a special interest in geriatrics, emergency medicine, pre hospital care, and cardiology, but is best known for his role in developing the CALS (Comprehensive Advanced Life Support) course for the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians. Named Minnesota Rural Health Hero in 2001, Physician of the Year in 2001 by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, and Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians, “he is highly decorated and a major reason why the Granite Falls Hospital has been referred to by metropolitan hospitals as the most famous rural hospital in the state” according to Granite Falls Hospital Nursing Director Patty Massmann.
RN Jennifer Varpness emphasized just how dedicated the doctors are to the community, providing a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. “Most people don’t understand how it works,” she said. “They ask, ‘When is the doctor coming’ and they don’t realize they’re in the clinic from 9:00am to 6:00 or 7:00pm…they’re making rounds before going downstairs, they’re often rounding after and then they’re also coming to visit patients when we call upon them. They work 12-14 hours a day whether by telephone or here-and it’s really appreciated, and people don’t see that.” With 365 days per year dedicated to the patient, this Friday patients and co-workers will have an opportunity to dedicate a day of gratitude to the overflowing contributions of Dr. Ken Carter, Dr. Darrell Carter, and Dr. Art Rillo. “I just don’t think they understand how much we appreciate them, because we don’t tell them enough,” said Monson. “I don’t think anyone tells them enough.”