‘For me, it’s the people’
Keane returns to Webster City to practice as a physician’s assistant at Van Diest
Editor’s note: This feature first ran in a special publication called Hometown Pride, featuring people and organizations from Fort Dodge and the surrounding area who are working hard for their communities.
Not too much has changed in Webster City since Mari Kait Keane went away to college six years ago, but there is one new place in town that’s pretty important.
It’s the Van Diest Family Health Clinic, where Keane has been working since Feb. 20 as a physician’s assistant.
“This facility is actually new to me,” Keane said. “It’s nice to have the clinic attached to the hospital. … The actual building is beautiful.”
Keane was happy to move back to her hometown to take her first job.
“This is my first job as a PA, so I’m excited to get started as a general practitioner,” she said. “I see patients of all ages, from infants to geriatric patients and everybody in between for acute visits — a lot of flu and respiratory infections lately, to more chronic management of things like hypertension, hyperthyroid, those kinds of things.
“That’s what I was looking for was the variety family practice has to offer.”
The grounds are new, but many of the people she’s working with are friends.
“I worked at Webster City Medical Clinic in high school. I was in the medical records department, and in the time I’ve been away a lot of that staff has come here to work at Van Diest Medical Clinic,” Keane said. “So there have been a lot of familiar faces.”
The Van Diest building was completed in 2016, shortly after which Webster City Medical Clinic joined with Van Diest Medical Clinic.
Keane grew up in Webster City, and graduated from Webster City High School in 2012. She went to the University of Iowa for her undergraduate degree in human physiology, then stayed on there for her masters in the physician assistant program in the Carver College of Medicine.
In her last year, she spent time training at clinics and hospitals throughout the state of Iowa, which made the transition into the work world easier, Keane said. She received her degree in November.
Returning home was an easy decision.
“For me, it’s the people,” she said. “My family is here. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, my mom is here.
“And then the people who work here at Van Diest Medical Center. I was able to meet with them during the recruitment process, and I could tell this would be a very welcoming community of people to work with. Very supportive, which is important to me as a new PA, because a lot of my learning is still happening.”
The clinic is happy to have her, said Public Relations and Marketing Director Lori Foster.
“It’s definitely a win for the community, as well as the hospital, to have a local gal like Mari Kait return and want to practice and care for the community she grew up in,” Foster said.
“She did have the opportunity to work at Webster City Medical Clinic, and she really has some terrific mentors in the clinic,” she added. “I can speak on behalf of the physicians and providers in the clinic that had the opportunity to spend time with Mari Kait, and they are equally excited to have Mari Kait join our staff here.”
Webster City has a lot to offer, Keane said.
“Especially now that its springtime, we have great trails and parks,” she said. “Our local library is a beautiful resource. We’ve got lots of great books on the shelves, and they have electronic resources, which is really nice. My faith community is here.
Keane’s goal has long been to join the medical field.
“I really enjoyed science in school. I liked biology and chemistry, and I knew I wanted to work with people,” she said. “So I was able to have some job shadowing opportunities that made me realize being a PA would be a good fit, to allow me to explore those interests.
“I’m excited about all kinds of care,” she added. “I like working with kids. That was one of the rotations I enjoyed was my pediatric rotation.
“But I also like working with adults on long-term goals. You know, healthy lifestyle, working on weight management, hypertension.
“I think that’s the really exciting part about family medicine, is that I get to keep seeing people and being able to go along with them on their journey through healthcare. I think thats really important to have continuity of care, and keep seeing the same person and working on goals.”