Dr. Jarrett Riley first realized he wanted to work with young people when he was just a child himself. “I was a pretty sick kid,” he says. “I had a heart condition and my pediatrician was really awesome.” Once he started medical school, a series of rotations, including family medicine and internal medicine, confirmed his decision. “Of everything, I really enjoyed my pediatric rotation,” he says. “That’s when I knew I was going to be a pediatrician.”
Riley is one of three new physicians at Grays Harbor Community Hospital, joining Dr. Brian Fox, a family practitioner and Dr. Rachel Sell, a general surgeon. All three started at the hospital in the past few months and are getting to know the community.
Already, Riley has noted some differences between Grays Harbor and Pullman where he practiced previously. “I learned a lot about the business side of medicine,” he says of his prior position, “being on call and seeing 20 patients a day along with several other providers.” Because it’s a university town, many of his patients were professors or otherwise connected with the college, a factor that was sometimes challenging. “A lot of people would come in with their ideas already set about what was going on with their child’s health,” he says. “Here, I have a lot of opportunity to educate families and information is better received.”
Time away from the hospital is spent with his children, hiking or watching the Seahawks. “My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter is a daddy’s girl and you can usually find me at the YMCA of Grays Harbor after work picking her up,” says Riley. “We think it’s the nicest Y in Washington.” He and his wife have been checking out local hiking spots and exploring the community, too. “My wife loves cloudy weather, so this is amazing for her,” he says.
Riley hopes patients will realize they can have their needs met without leaving Grays Harbor. “We want people to want to come to us,” he says. “There’s no reason to go to Olympia.”
Although he’s originally from the Midwest, Dr. Brian Fox has also fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest. Since becoming a physician in 1997, he settled first in Chicago before moving to Seattle and eventually taking a position with the Shoalwater Bay Tribe from 2011 to 2015. He accepted the new position in Grays Harbor in part because “I missed the Harbor too much,” he says.
With a background in everything from urgent and emergency care to family practice, he finds that the issues faced in Grays Harbor are like those anywhere else, just different in scale and available resources. “There’s a lot of overlap in family medicine,” he says. “I enjoy the variety. When you do emergency medicine, the patients aren’t always able to communicate, so I’m enjoying connecting with people.”
Since returning to the area, he’s been impressed with the community. “There are a lot of people who are really committed to Grays Harbor,” Fox says. He’s also took advantage of the summer weather to rediscover the region through day hiking, road trips and preparing his house for the inevitable northwest winter. “I’m glad to be back in the Harbor,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being part of the solution to the issues that communities like this face.”
Dr. Rachel Sell has also noticed the communal spirit in Grays Harbor. “I’m really enjoying getting to work in a smaller community,” she says. “People feel so invested in taking care of their neighbors.”
The small-town flavor is familiar to Sell, who grew up in the rural community of Seabeck, Washington on the shores of Hood Canal. Years at an urban hospital in Detroit prepared her to deal with a wide variety of conditions. “One thing I love about surgery it’s that there are all kinds of different environments,” she says. “You may be on call for anything from an infected gall bladder to a gunshot wound as well as doing consults on the floor. One of the things that drew me here was the ability to follow through with patients in all sorts of settings, including a more elective environment like my office.”
With 60 family members within a few hours’ drive, Sell finds most of her free time occupied with camping, boating or watching Seahawks games together. She enjoys traveling and has fond memories of one trip in particular: a month-long visit to Turkey for her college honors program. “We had a professor of history and a professor of religion with us who spoke Turkish,” she says. “It was great to immerse myself in so much history.”
As the only female surgeon on staff, she hopes that women who might be traveling elsewhere to see female physicians will reconsider. “I hope they’ll stay here and see me.”
For more information about Grays Harbor Community Hospital, visit www.ghcares.org or call 360-532-8330.