Blue Mountain Hospital District named a new interim surgeon while they continue to search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Keith Thomas, who resigned late last month.

District CEO Derek Daly said Dr. Imudia Ehanire will take over on Jan. 27 and will cover three weeks per month for at least the first part of the year.

According to the Texas Medical Board’s website, Ehanire currently practices general surgery and completed her medical degree in 2009 at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

In addition to a medical degree, Ehanire has a Master’s in Business Administration, Daly said.

“She is a very impressive lady and is very well-educated,” he said. “Dr. Thomas and I were floored when she came across as a coverage opportunity.”

Daly said he is working on hiring a permanent part-time surgeon to pick up the remaining week every month.

“The plan is to solidify coverage in the short-term, and expand access and coverage in the long-term,” Daly said.

Daly said Thomas left on good terms after being in the position for almost 15 years.

“He (Thomas) is a phenomenal surgeon and an even better man,” Daley said. “I’m really sorry to see him go, but I’m really excited for him and his new opportunity.”

Thomas relocated to Colorado, Daly said.

Recruiting health care professionals from larger cities to a rural area like Grant County has its challenges, Daly said.

Interested candidates got cold feet, said Daly, once they realized the remoteness of the area.

“One of the (challenges) we hear is the distance from a larger city,” he said. “In a lot of people’s case that means distance from an airport.”

Selling the candidate’s spouse on the idea of small-town life is an equally — if not more — important part of the recruitment process, he said.

The candidate is looking to come here for a reason, said Daly.

“It (the idea of relocating) probably matches the job they’re looking for, the type of area they’re looking for and the type of environment they want to live in,” he said. “Oftentimes you have to recruit the spouse harder than the candidate.”

Reporter

Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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