JOHN DAY - The addition of Dr. Louise LeDuc to the Strawberry Wilderness Community Clinic staff fills one of three critical gaps in the ranks of local physicians in Grant County.

Medical officials are still trying to fill two remaining family practice posts that went vacant in the past year.

The string of openings started last year when Dr. Russ Nichols moved to a new job. Since then, Dr. John Jackson and Dr. Joe Bachtold both decided to leave the area.

Jackson, longtime chief of physicians, left to return to the South, where he had lived before.

Bachtold's decision to leave came after someone dumped a toxic substance into the residential well at his home on Little Canyon Mountain last fall. The Grant County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the case, but no arrests have been made. Bachtold moved to the Sisters area to take a new job with a medical clinic.

Bob Houser, Blue Mountain Hospital director, said earlier that the hospital has been filling in with doctors who take temporary placements - the process that brought LeDuc to John Day. The hospital and local clinics also get help from students from the Oregon Health & Science University who are doing their rural medicine rotations.

While the hiring process continues, the hospital is urging people with illnesses or medical problems to continue to call their doctors or make an appointment at one of the local clinics, rather than wait until their problem becomes more severe and requires a visit to the emergency room.

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