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Feature Article

Practicing Medicine Can Be a Family Tradition

As the son of a small town doctor, Ross Wopat grew up in Lebanon where many people knew his dad, family physician Rick Wopat, MD. He saw how his dad made a positive impact in people’s lives. He felt proud when people would see them at the grocery store and stop to say how much they appreciated their doctor and his volunteerism in the community.

He knew from an early age that he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a physician. And he did. Ross Wopat, MD, is now a urologist with Samaritan Urology in Albany.

“I wanted to have that sort of impact on the lives of people in my community,” the younger Dr. Wopat said.

You could say that answering the calling to care is a family tradition for the father and son physicians. The same could be said for husband and wife caregivers, Joni Kalis, PT, manager of physical rehabilitation at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, and family physician William Cornish, MD, of Samaritan Coastal Clinic in Lincoln City.

The couple relocated to the Oregon Coast in 2015. Because they both have medical backgrounds and work for Samaritan, they have a common point of reference.

When Kalis is concerned about a challenging case, she doesn’t have to explain it to Dr. Cornish. And when Dr. Cornish calls to say he’ll be home late, Kalis understands that he’s checking on a patient at the hospital.

On Sunday mornings, while Dr. Cornish is catching up on “in-baskets” at work – tasks assigned in the electronic medical record system – Kalis goes for a run at the beach. Since joining Samaritan, the couple say they have found a healthy work-life balance.

 “Samaritan is an outstanding organization,” Kalis said. “We feel lucky to be part of the family and team here at North Lincoln.”

It’s the same feeling Dr. Rick Wopat has about working for Samaritan and seeing his son return home to Oregon to practice medicine.

“I am very happy that Ross and his wife, Emily, have come to the Willamette Valley,” he said. “I encouraged him to go where they would be most happy, and the fact that they chose this area speaks to the quality of medical care and the value of living closer to family.”