In recent months, Memorial Hospital of Carbon County has welcomed an elite group of new practitioners.
And although they’re practicing in the small community of Rawlins, their veteran experience helps any and all patients in big ways.
One of these newer hires is John Lumb, MD, a general surgeon whose decades-long background has be utilized all over the country.
To gain more perspective into how Dr. Lumb’s seasoned touch is able to benefit the general health of the community, the Daily Times recently caught up to him for a quick Q&A session.
Dr. Lumb’s office is at the Wagon Circle Medical Clinic, 2012 Elm St. To make your next appointment, call (307) 324-6022.
RDT: Please state your name.
Lumb: John Lumb.
RDT: And what do you do?
Lumb: I’m a general surgeon. We do a lot of abdominal surgery, hernias, gallbladder, appendix, breasts, trauma… if someone comes in the emergency room with a deep cut or tear of the skin, sometimes we’re called in to fix that if the ER doctor doesn’t feel comfortable doing it.
RDT: I understand you’re relatively new to this area?
Lumb: Three months.
RDT: Looking around your office, I take it you’re from Tennessee?
Lumb: East Tennessee, near Knoxville.
RDT: Were you working there prior to coming here?
Lumb: For 18 years.
RDT: What inspired you to come here?
Lumb: Well, the job situation there changed, and so we thought we needed to look elsewhere. And my wife in I are kind of in a stage of our life where we’re kind of trying to look for something different. We went hiking here in Wyoming and Montana about three years ago and loved this area. We heard of a job in this town, decided to check it out and here we are.
RDT: How’s the transition been?
Lumb: Good. We really like it.
RDT: For general surgery, what type of clientele do you typically have?
Lumb: Across the spectrum. We see children, if they come in with an appendix. We see elderly. If they come in the hospital and they have some belly pain or have some GI bleeding or things like that, we do a scope endoscopy – look at the stomach and look at the colon with a scope to kind of evaluate things. We see people who come in that have had trouble swallowing food and they have food caught in their esophagus… you know, we see a wide spectrum.
RDT: How long have you been in the industry?
Lumb: I’ve been doing general surgery for 25 years, and I like it. I like the field, you know? I like the job day to day. I like the impact you make in people’s lives. Of course, medicine has gone through some changes, with insurance companies and things like that, and most doctors don’t really like those changes. But the job day to day, it’s still fun to wake up and go to work.
RDT: Are there any negative aspects you don’t like about the job?
Lumb: It’s dealing with the paperwork and the insurance companies, really. Being controlled… back in the old days, doctors could work independently and control their own hours and things like that. Right now, doctors are being controlled by insurance companies and other forces.
RDT: What distinct stories do you hold which really stick out?
Lumb: Well, I mean there’s a lot of patients that will stick in my mind; in 25 years, you see a lot of people. And that’s one of the things I really liked about general surgery – you’re not dealing with diseases that are lingering on for years and years, you’re dealing with things that you treat urgently and the patients’ better. And they walk away and are back to normal, generally. We do deal with some chronic illnesses and what not. Like an appendix, a patient might be deathly ill... you treat it, and they’re walking away back to normal. Or a colon cancer… you have a patient come in with an obstruct in colon cancer, you remove that segment of colon, put things back together, and you’ve essentially saved a life. So, there’s a lot of satisfaction in the job. That’s why I went into general surgery. I went into medical school not really knowing what I was going to do, what field I was going to go in. We did rotations in different fields and general surgery just attracted me.
RDT: Obviously, you’re well credentialed; but where did you go to school?
Lumb: I went to medical school in Houston – the University of Texas. That’s where I decided I wanted to go into general surgery. But I decided to do a general surgery residency in a smaller community program knowing I wanted to do general surgery in a small town. If you go to a big center to do general surgery, often times they’re trying to groom you to do research. I knew I just wanted to take care of people, so I went to a large community hospital in Pontiac, Michigan for five years. At the end of that I decided, well, maybe I want to move back closer to the South. I grew up in Houston, and Michigan was a big transition and the winters were really long. It wasn’t the cold that bothered me in Michigan, it was just the gray weather.
RDT: It gets a little depressing.
Lumb: It was really depressing. I would go to work, it would be dark. I would get off work, it would be dark. And on those Saturdays that you had a few hours off, it would be gray, and it was quite depressing. That’s when I ended up leaving Michigan, and I worked in Arkansas for five years... a small town in Arkansas. I was the only surgeon in town there and I was young and five years was too long in that town. I ended up going to East Tennessee at that point, my brother was there, and that was a beautiful area of that country.
RDT: What are your plans here, and how long do you intend on staying?
Lumb: Well, that’s open-ended. I think it depends on how much business I have. We have not been through a winter here yet, so we’re kind of curious to see how that goes. My wife and I, though, are very interested in taking up winter sports. We love snowmobiling, and we’re hoping to learn to cross-country ski and snowshoe and that sort of thing.
RDT: I see you like 5K running?
Lumb: We like running. It’s always a challenge here because of the altitude. In Tennessee, the altitude was about a thousand feet above sea level, and here it’s much more difficult. But it’s beautiful.
RDT: With that, what can people do to stay out of the hospital?
Lumb: Well, of course, appendicitis and things like that are difficult to control. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle certainly helps prevent gallstone formations and things like that. A good diet tends to prevent gallstone formation; we do a lot of gallbladders. That’s one of the most common surgeries done in the United States. But there’s a genetic component to that as well. You can do everything right and still end up with gallstones and gallbladder attacks. We also deal with colon screenings; for instance, to do colonoscopies to prevent colon cancer formation. There are some things you should see a doctor for, and we’re open for business for that type of thing.
RDT: For a colonoscopy, a person should get one at the age of 50, right?
Lumb: The previous recommendations were 50 years old, even with absolutely no symptoms – and that’s if you have no family history of colon cancer. If you have a history of colon cancer, then it is recommended to come in sooner. The current recommendations, which came out a few months ago, is 45 years old.
RDT: How’s business, thus far?
Lumb: It’s been pretty slow, and I don’t know if referral patterns in this town have been kind of groomed to send things out of town, or it’s just a matter of educating people as to what’s available here. I’d appreciate any help to spread the word.
RDT: With that, if someone needed your services, how would that process take place?
Lumb: It’s a matter of calling the office and setting up an appointment and discussing their case, discussing their diagnosis. Most of the time patients come to me related to symptoms – abdominal pain, or throwing up blood, or passing blood in their bowel movements, or findings that were found on X-rays by their primary care doctor. So, what would happen is, usually they would initially present to their primary care doctor, and then the primary care doctor would say, ‘Well, what surgeon would you want to see?’ And that’s when they send patients here and set up an appointment and we discuss it. And when it’s appropriate to do surgery, we set up arrangements at the hospital.