St. Luke physician brings holistic approach

?I can?t imagine ignoring the spiritual life (of a patient) if they want to go there,? says Tim McVay, new physician with St. Luke Hospital and Living Center. ?For some people, their spiritual life is very private to them.?  Patty Decker / Free Press

Marion?s newest doctor is taking the road less traveled by offering his patients an approach to holistic medicine.

Mark (Tim) McVay, 46, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said holistic medicine treats the whole patient in body, mind and spirit.

?I can?t imagine ignoring the spiritual life (of a patient) if they want to go there,? he said. ?For some people, their spiritual life is very private to them, and that is fine.?

McVay said many people want to talk about what is happening in their life, but it?s hard for them to discuss emotional and relationship issues without talking about their life with God.

?To me, that?s holistic care,? he said. ?I was actually trained to ask about people?s spiritual life, and if they want to talk, I will listen.?

McVay said he has prayed with patients in his office, and some of those interactions have been among the most meaningful.

?There are things I cry with them about and some are difficult issues,? he said. ?I just love people.?

McVay credits his grandfather for inspiring him.

?My grandpa was a cotton farmer, but a great student of people and often remarked how interesting they were,? he said. ?I would go with him, and he would interact with all manner of folks.?

McVay said he believes he learned a lot about people by spending time listening and watching his grandfather.

Early years

McVay grew up in a small town between Cobden and Alto Pass in southern Illinois. After completing medical school and residency, he spent his first four years of practice working off a National Health Service Corps scholarship in Dexter, Mo., a town of about 8,000 people across the Missis?sippi River from where he was raised.

From there, he moved to El Dorado and practiced for three years before moving to Wichita, when he was recruited to teach at Via Christi in the Family Medicine Residency Program.

Living with royalty

The next move for McVay and his family was to the Middle East, which was his introduction to VIP medicine. For one year, McVay served as one of three physicians caring for Salman, 79, who was then the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Salman became king in January 2015, after King Abdullah?s death.

?It was an interesting experience,? McVay said about the interview process for the position.

?The Saudi Royal family wanted a doctor for the crowned prince (Salman), and they contracted with the Boston Consulting Group, which is maybe the biggest consulting group in the world, to find him three doctors,? he said.

The BCG went to the White House, he said, and spoke with Air Force Briga?dier Gen. Richard Tubb, who was the family physician to Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Bushes.

Tubb retired, though, after President Barack Obama was elected.

?Through a long process, the (BCG) found me at Via Christi in Wichita,? McVay said.

After interviewing with Tubb, McVay flew to Riyadh, the largest city and capital of Saudi Arabia, to meet with medical principals and two Saudi generals.

?I was the only Westerner chosen to care for (Salman),? he said. ?The other two doctors were trained in Canada but were Saudis.?

In addition to having three personal physicians available to the crown prince, McVay said there was a larger medical team?but only the doctors were in the palace.

?I might work during the day, but we were on-call whenever he needed us,? he said. ?I would talk with (Salman), have lunch with him and his family and travel with him to Jeddah (on the coast of the Red Sea) and other places.?

With a bachelor of arts degree in political science, McVay said the position was ?incredibly appealing.? He also couldn?t pass up the professional opportunity either.

?I saw a lot of my family,? he said. ?It was kind of like being on sabbatical. We had a wonderful, rich time together with the family, but I cut it off at a year.?

Back in the USA

Even though he was offered more money, McVay said he it was time to go back to work. He was hired to teach medicine in Illinois and Alabama.

At that time, Via Christi had nothing available. He went to work for GraceMed, a multi-community health clinic.

?In Wichita, there are eight sites for the urban poor,? he said. ?It is for immigrants, Hispanics (and others), and it was a cool place.?

Even though he enjoyed his time there, McVay wanted to go back to a rural area where he first started with his residency. He was looking for a place to do clinic, hospital and emergency room procedures.

Two or three days after thinking about this change, he received an email from a recruiter in Dallas about a place that turned out to be Marion.

?The rest is history,? he said.

As for the people and town of Marion, McVay said he couldn?t be happier.

?The community has been amazing. We laugh, have fun and I have gotten to know several people here and in Hillsboro. I look forward to coming to work and I feel good after I leave work. I don?t feel wound up.?

He and wife Sherri live in Valley Center and have four children: Karin, 22, Nathan?iel, 15, Elise, 12, and Daniel, 10.

McVay, who started seeing patients May 12, said his practice includes everybody and every age.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 620-382-3722 or stop by the St. Luke Medical Clinic at 537 S. Freeborn St., Marion.

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