A Century of Rural Hometown Medicine
Dr. Roscoe Mitchell, Dr. George Mitchell, Dr. Steve Macke, Dr Jim Buechler, and Dr. Jim Turner: Five Marshall natives who cared for residents of their hometown for more than a century. But that era will soon be coming to an end.
Two Hometown Heroes Set for Retirement
Dr. James Turner is retiring at the end of April after more than three decades of practicing medicine in the Wabash Valley. Well, sort of. You see, Dr. Turner has never been “just” a doctor.
He’s a graduate of the University of Illinois, the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Union Hospital Family Medicine Residency. After starting his career in 1989, right here at Union Health, he never left. In fact, he’s just added onto his repertoire of responsibilities including: Medical Director for the Lugar Center for Rural Health, Chairman for the Vigo County Board of Health, Chairman for the Infection Control Committee for Union Health, Medical Director for Providence – St. Mary’s Health Center and a member of the community teaching faculty for multiple programs. So, with all of that, Dr. Turner says he can’t just turn in his lab coat one day and be done. That’s just not who he is. 33 years. That’s right - 33 years have been spent at Cork Medical Center in Marshall, Illinois.
“It is really an honor and privilege for a small-town kid that grew up with his dad working at Velsicol (former chemical factory) and family of six kids to be able to come home and take care of the people you grew up with and your grandparents grew up with,” Dr. Turner said. “Within two blocks of the medical center, is the nursing home where my Grandmother was. Across the parking lot is the swimming pool that I swam in every day. Look out the other window is the high school that I graduated from and played football. Another two blocks away is the Baptist Church that I got married in and another two blocks is where I grew up. So, literally, within a mile of my office have been some of the major places of my life that I can still see out the window. In some ways, I didn’t go very far.” In others, he’s moved mountains.
“When I started practice 33 years ago, it’s much different than what most family physicians do today,” Dr. Turner said. “When I started, we delivered babies. I delivered about 900 babies in Marshall. We took care of all the patients in the hospital – they were our patients. We admitted them, we took care of them, we discharged them. There was no hospitalist program. We took care of everybody in the nursing home. We did all the sports medicine – we walked the sidelines with the athletes, did all the sports physicals. You name it, I have probably dabbled in it."
Dabbled in some, others – he completely dove in. Dr. Turner says the adage of “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” is absolutely true. “I’ve been able to survive financially, medically in a two-stoplight town for 33 years and still have fun! That’s the key – have fun. I enjoy my patients, my staffing – laughing with them. With any job, if you can have fun every day, and look forward to going to work – you’ve made it. I can say I’ve made it. Being able to help people is just icing on the cake.” But he says he couldn’t have done it without his nurse, Peggy Lichtenburger, by his side.
“For the past 31 years, Peggy has put up with me,” Dr. Turner said. “She said she didn’t have the energy to train another one. It’s been an amazing partnership and I am so blessed to have done this journey with her by my side.” The pair plan to retire together. Their last day at Cork Medical Center is April 29, 2022.