Doc Raney's Patients Get Creative With New Economic Realities

The 1980 alumnus continues using his healing touch in rural Washington

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Country doctor Mark Raney '80 takes time out to make music.

In these trying economic times, country doctor Mark Raney ’80 and his fellow clinicians at Sky Valley Family Medicine in Sultan, Washington, have settled on one consistent message: Practice good nutrition, take appropriate low-cost supplements (Vitamin D is a must at this latitude), get regular exercise (preferably by walking), and strive for a balanced spiritual life.

“That is the best remedy for whatever it is that is going around in the world right now,” says Raney, who says his Cascade foothills community has been hit hard by a combination of river flooding, terrible winter weather, and a tough economy.

He sees more adult children and their families moving back home or in with other family members because they are out of work and can’t make ends meet, or just to get closer to one another in shaky times. He says his scrappy neighbors “are people who rally and find a reason to make a stand as they have done in the past when the logging and mining went sideways.”

More are planting gardens this year. The gifts of smoked fish and venison the doctors once received have dried up as patients must “reap what they sow or catch.” A number are foregoing health maintenance care and delaying elective procedures and screening tests. Many have lost their health care coverage or will with a pending layoff. The trend is toward more complicated doctor's visits with people wanting several problems addressed in one visit in an effort to consolidate their out-of-pocket costs.

“At the clinic, we do our best to accommodate that need by making longer visits available and using a shoehorn to get the additional things done in the shorter acute care slots,” says Raney. He’s also seeing patients looking for a second or third opinion “after having first visited Drs. Google and Yahoo.”

A doctor of osteopathic medicine who also farms, Raney was saddened last year when his beloved Belgian gelding Maple Nut died of an unknown cause. “It was a tough goodbye to a very dear and wise horse that taught me so much about being a decent human.”


Response invites you to meet Doc Raney in the magazine's original article about his rural practice and the impact he makes in the community.



By Clint Kelly []