|Dr. Kohl begins family medicine practice at PCHS|
By Jan Goff
Enthusiastic and dedicated, Kristi Kohl, M.D. is committed to adding even more excellence to the medical care provided at Perkins County Health Services.
Dr. Kohl joined the medical staff on Monday, April 20, following a lengthy search by administration and the board.
“I have only been trying to do this for about 21 months now, and the day is finally here,” said PCHS Administrator Pam Holm. “We are just delighted to have Dr. Kohl begin practicing in the Grant Medical Clinic and think that she will be a tremendous asset to our community as well as to our facility.”
Specializing in family practice with obstetrics, including C-sections and endoscopies, Dr. Kohl said she is excited to be able to work with both Dr. Paul Bottom and Dr. James Schiefen doing C-sections, as they are highly respected for their procedural skills.
“I hope to take advantage of at least part of Dr. Bottom’s hard-earned wisdom,” said Kohl. “He seemed very open to mentoring even after retiring, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him.”
“It’s always a good day if you can learn something new,” she said. “I hope to also draw on the experience of Dr. Demmel and Dr. Colglazier as I start working in Grant.”
The UNMC-Omaha medical school graduate said she loves the variety of family practice and especially likes helping people through transitions.
“One of the most beautiful things to me is being able to bring a baby into the world and be there for the mom and dad, and sometimes brothers or sisters, as that tiny baby changes things.” She loves kids, and especially being able to recognize their unique personalities as they grow.
A favorite part of practicing medicine is hearing the amazing stories of people who have lived a full life already, said Dr. Kohl, and how that reflects their dealings with disease or disability.
“We are so connected in this small world, and I think the family doctor is in a rare position to appreciate that.”
Dr. Kohl is as excited to be here as the administration is to have her—she was surprised and pleased to have had so many people tell her they doctor at the clinic and are excited to hear she will be working there. She appreciates the well-respected reputation of the hospital and the longevity and stability of its employees, the average being 15 years for nurses at the facility.
Giving most of the credit for her career change to Holm, Dr. Kohl said she was initially contacted by the administrator who set up a meeting with Drs. Demmel and Colglazier—which is the point where she became very interested in PCHS, she said.
She was also impressed with Holm’s efficiency and interest in accommodation. Dr. Kohl said she mentioned having an in-office ultrasound machine to use for early stages of pregnancy, and by the next day Holm had the piece of equipment on the capital budget after having talked with the ultrasound tech.
Having the clinic, the hospital, the emergency room, the nursing home, assisted living and the daycare all within the same facility is something else she mentioned as something she appreciates.
Kohl said she was very impressed at the hospital’s “metrics”—measurements of useful patientcare data. Those measurements, especially for heart attack victims whose average time from the door to the time a blood clot is broken up, are excellent, she said.
Dr. Kohl comes to PCHS from the Ogallala Medical Group where she practiced from 2004-09. Previously, she did a residency with Panhandle Community Services from 2002-04.
She feels very fortunate that she had chosen a rural training track, graduating from the Scottsbluff Rural Training Track in 2004 under residency director Dr. Pete Johnson whose emphasis on practice management and continuing medical education she deems invaluable.
Dr. Kohl said she was also blessed to be able to do a month-long trauma rotation with Dr. Westerbuhr as he was getting the western Nebraska trauma system up and running.
“His vision for Nebraska was incredible,” she said. “His care for the smaller towns and hospitals is something that shaped the way I think about medicine.”
The community she will serve as the new physician at PCHS is happy her career took the shape it did which eventually brought her to this rural area. Her undergraduate schooling at the University of Nebraska and a unique primary care program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Internal Medicine and Family Practice could have sent her another direction.
The small town girl who grew up in Oshkosh said wanting to return to a rural area helped her make her specialty decision because she would be able to incorporate procedural skills needed in rural areas into her family practice.
At the age of 12, she read a Reader’s Digest condensed book at her grandma’s about the world’s first heart transplant in South Africa. Loving the description of the operating room team atmosphere, she decided at that point to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. That plan changed later, however, when she decided she liked patients who were awake better and changed direction to family practice.
The daughter of two school teachers was born in Kearney and lived in Elwood until moving to Oshkosh when she was two. Her father, Ken Wendland, is a retired teacher who got tired of being retired and is now commuting to teach math in Arthur. Mom Colleen is the kindergarten teacher in Oshkosh.
Volleyball is a passion said Kohl, who has had a lot of fun competing against Grant’s league team. She loves to read and learn new things, and enjoys watching her sons Tucker, 15, Jack, a fourth grader, and five-year-old Jeb in their many activities.
She said she enjoys fishing and took up hunting—dove, teal, “big ducks” and geese a couple years ago to get to spend time with husband Shawn and their sons, also avid hunters. Her husband of 16 years is employed at J&K Irrigation.
Dr. Kohl will commute from Ogallala until school is out, and in the meantime they are looking in and around Grant for a house so they can make a move this summer.
She is looking forward to the new challenges and surprises her career move will introduce, and is eager to get acquainted, although she said she is surprised at how many people she already knows in the community.
“I think the people of Grant are honest, hard-working and appreciative, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve them,” she said.
Her focus is on caring for people, and she has a deep respect for the hardworking people who support our economy, produce our food, and serve our communities. Dr. Kohl said she is comfortable in a small town and is looking forward to serving the people.
She said she loves PCHS’s motto: Our mission is to provide excellence in care—for life.