It’s been 90 years since a small-town doctor from Missouri has led the American Medical Association (AMA), but this week a Mercy physician from Mountain Grove took the oath of office.
Dr. David Barbe grew up in the small town of 5,000 people. After medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a residency in Kansas, he came back to start caring for his community. His wife, Debbie, a nurse, started practicing right alongside him.
“Debbie and I saw our return to Mountain Grove as a mission that appealed to our desire to serve and make a difference in the lives of patients and our community,” Dr. Barbe said. “And it is still our mission 34 years later to serve our neighbors and friends.”
Dr. Barbe’s rural health care experience at Mercy Clinic Family Medicine – Mountain Grove will shape his approach to one of the biggest issues facing health care today. “Every day, I see patients who need tests or treatments – who are still uninsured – or haven’t met their deductible, and due to this, often delay necessary care,” he said. “Because of these patients, I see firsthand, every day, why the AMA’s unwavering goal of affordable health insurance coverage for all is worth fighting for.”
In addition, Dr. Barbe will advance the AMA’s strategic initiatives to create the medical school of the future, help doctors manage the stress of the job so they can focus on serving their patients and improve the health of the nation by preventing the two most common chronic diseases, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
His more than 34 years of service in Mountain Grove have turned his patients into lifelong friends.
“He’s more than just a doctor. He’s like family,” said patient Glenn Kemper, of Mountain Grove. “He’s involved in the community on so many levels, and he’s involved in our lives, too. When I lost my wife of 60 years, he was by my side through it all.”
Patient Lee Ann Roark had a similar situation, adding, "When I had my kidney transplant in St. Louis, he traveled there with my family and even joined us at the hospital. He's so selfless, and he inspires everyone to be better people."
In addition to his responsibilities with AMA, Dr. Barbe will continue to practice at his clinic, and serve as vice president of regional operations for Mercy Springfield Communities, with oversight of five hospitals, dozens of clinics and nearly 200 physicians and advanced practitioners.
“Every day, I marvel at what a gift it is to do what we have the privilege of doing as physicians,” he said. “I feel intense gratitude to have had the opportunities I have had to help patients, families and my profession.”
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.