Some globetrotters decide to settle down when they find just the right place. For Grays Harbor Community Hospital’s Dr. John Eiland, that place is Grays Harbor. A lifetime of travel and experience brought him to the Hoquiam Clinic and he’s putting down roots in his chosen community.
Adopted into a military family, Dr. Eiland spent time at nearby Ft. Lewis while growing up. After medical school, he began his practice at Providence Centralia Hospital before being recruited to Grays Harbor Community Hospital in 2009.
Trained as an OB/GYN with experience in clinical medicine, Dr. Eiland has lately been expanding into administration and leadership thanks to GHCH’s smaller size and willingness to let him peer behind the management curtain, Dr. Eiland earned an MBA in 2014, which he hopes to use in an expanded role down the line. But until then, administrators have gladly let him be involved and have a voice in decision making, something he says has been eye-opening.
But for now, Dr. Eiland shares that his passion is with people. From the Hoquiam Clinic, he and Dr. Nicholas Hallak see between 80 and 110 patients weekly with just under half being obstetric and another 40% being gynecological, including many surgical options. “Open spots are scarce with only two doctors,” Dr. Eiland admits.
Eventually, the clinic plans to add more OB/GYN’s and especially a female doctor to the team. “We’re only open so many days and can only see so many patients, but the hospital is actively recruiting.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so their office has been advising patients of the new medical guidelines. Unless you have a family history of breast cancer, they suggest women start screening at age 40 and be seen every 12 to 24 months. From age 50 through 75, annual screenings are recommended. “Our radiology department is focused on getting people seen in a timely basis,” says Dr. Eiland, “and most insurance companies don’t require a referral first. Grays Harbor Imaging offers 3D Mammography right here in Aberdeen.”
Seeking any kind of medical treatment during COVID-19 can bring up extra concerns, especially for pregnant or newly delivered mothers. “It’s a tough time for all who are involved,” agrees Dr. Eiland. “Parents are under constant fear of the unknown. They keep asking if their baby’s going to be okay. Ultimately, I provide as much reassurance as possible but also admit we just do not have enough data yet. So we suggest they take every precaution they can, masks, social distancing, avoiding crowded places and good hygiene, to keep them and their baby safe from the virus.”
Poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. once said that “Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Dr. Eiland’s active feet are always in motion, but he’s enjoying the Grays Harbor life with his family. Outside of work, Dr. Eiland loves to run and is an active marathoner and triathlete. “People comment they always see me running around town,” he says. He regularly runs between 30 and 35 miles each week and increases that to 80 miles a week when training for an event or race.
And with a growing family, he and his wife are starting to establish roots here. “I love the area and get recognized everywhere, it’s nice,” Dr. Eiland shares. “Working here as a provider is a service. True, there may be higher pay for fewer hours elsewhere, but my motto is that even small towns deserve good providers.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that “while 20% of the U.S. population lives in rural communities, only 11% of physicians practice in such areas. The lack of physicians is deeply worrisome. That’s in part because rural residents are more likely to die from health issues like cardiovascular disease, unintentional injury, and chronic lung disease than city-dwellers. Rural residents also tend to be diagnosed with cancer at later stages and have worse outcomes.”
These numbers are even more dire when it comes to OB/GYN care. AAMC research shows that “By 2020, there will be up to 8,000 fewer OB-GYNs than needed…The shortage hits rural women hardest, with over half living more than 30 minutes away from a hospital with perinatal services, a trek that can be life-threatening in an emergency.”
Home doesn’t have to be a birthplace, where your parents chose to settle, or tied to a milestone in your life. Home is where you’re surrounded by those you love, respect and have a passion for helping. And for Dr. John Eiland, home is the misty morning jogs and hectic late-night births in Grays Harbor. Call the Hoquiam Clinic at 360-537-6430 with questions or to set up an appointment and, if you see him running by (before, during or after work), give a big wave of thanks for all he does.