Long-time Hettinger doctor to retire Monday
HETTINGER -- Dr. Bob Grossman has served the residents of southwestern North Dakota for over three decades.
When Grossman, who has worked for West River Health Services in Hettinger for 34 years, retires Monday he'll leave a legacy of dedicated service behind him.
"Dr. Grossman is a very dedicated individual. He's a wonderful physician," fellow physician at WRHS, Cathy Houle said. "We're going to miss him, we're going to miss his experience and all of that and if we have questions, he'll be there."
Grossman said there comes a time when older doctors simply need to move on to make way for the younger generation.
"It's been a glorious run, I have no regrets," Grossman said. "Those of us who are older, need to move on and let those younger more energetic doctors come in and work."
Houle said if anyone asked her who her mentor was, that it would be Grossman and that it's most likely that way for several of the physicians who have served at WRHS.
"I think Dr. Grossman is an example of why our group in our medical system has been successful," Houle said. "You have to be proactive. ...I think I can't say enough about how the foresight they had to go out and be active on a state and national level has helped us."
Grossman said he and the other physicians he has worked with during his time in Hettinger simply wanted the best for their patients.
And getting the best care included being involved outside their small southwestern North Dakota town.
"I think the main thing is that we always emphasized that rural people in North Dakota deserve the same level of care as urban people," Grossman said. "It doesn't mean that they have to have substandard medical care just because they're rural and I think we've shown that it can be done and done well."
Grossman hasn't been shy about staying involved. He was the president of the North Dakota Medical Association, has been on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors for the last 10 years, which he is currently serving as chairman for, a board member for the North Dakota HealthCare Review and has been an assistant clinical professor at the UND School of Medicine for 30 years.
Grossman was also named the outstanding rural healthcare provider in the state one year.
Rural life came naturally to Grossman, who grew up in North Dakota. His parents, who were teachers, moved around quite a bit and taught in several towns in southwest North Dakota.
Following his high school graduation, in Wibaux, Mont., Grossman went to the University of North Dakota for his undergraduate degree. Grossman then attended UND for his first two years of medical school. During his time at the UND medical school, Grossman was sent on a rural rotation to Hettinger and something simply clicked.
"There were three family physicians who were having so much fun down here that it made me take a second look," Grossman said.
At that time, UND was only a two year school and you had to transfer after completing your second year. Grossman choose the University of Colorado's Medical School.
After receiving his degree, Grossman took on a year-long residency at North Memorial Medical Center out of Minnesota.
During his time there, Grossman found himself thinking about Hettinger and the hospital there and decided it was the place he wanted to be.
Grossman said he not only values his time spent as a doctor in Hettinger, but also the opportunity to raise a family in a small town.
"We have good teachers, good educators," Grossman said. "I raised my kids in a small town and it's been wonderful."
Grossman and his wife, Pat, have three children; Jodi, Joshua and Jennifer.
Jodi, who is a breast surgeon lives in Illinois, Jennifer is a psychiatry resident at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Joshua is a German teacher and live with his family in Rochester, Minn. He is also currently pursuing a doctorate in education.
Grossman said the small town lifestyle is, in his eyes, partly responsible for his children's success.
"My kids were in everything. There's an incredible opportunity for kids to do a lot of things in the little towns," Grossman said. "They had so many opportunities to do things."
Grossman and his wife will move to Bismarck following his retirement so they can be close to an airport, which will help them get to see their family more often.
"I have two grandchildren and another on the way and hopefully I'll get to see a lot more of them," Grossman laughed.
Spending so much time at the hospital, you almost develop a second family Grossman said.
"I spend probably three times as much time with my fellow docs as I do with my spouse," Grossman said. "We're pretty close, we have a lot of challenges and this has been a good place to do that."
Houle said the groundwork that Grossman and other physicians like Dr. Gerald Sailer laid for the Hettinger hospital is why they are where they are today. In fact, the hospital has been named the nation's outstanding rural clinic twice.
"We're going to miss seeing him around, but I expect he'll be around every now and again anyways," Houle said. "...It's going to be different, but I think one of the key things about this group is we don't think that anyone in his group is the one who keeps things going."
"We have challenges and disagreements, but the reality of it is that we get along well enough that this place has flourished," Grossman said. "Quite honestly, I'm retiring later this month, but I still love the place."