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Pediatrician abandons island life to work at local clinic

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Dr. James Gaensbauer is a pediatrician at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Grandview. Gaensbauer has been with the clinic since July 2003 and recently moved to the area from the South Pacific.

GRANDVIEW - Moving across a large blue ocean from the South Pacific to Grandview wasn't as big a move for Dr. James Gaensbauer as one might think.

Gaensbauer, a new pediatrician at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Grandview, was in the South Pacific as part of the National Health Services Corp. He explained that the organization helps pay for medical school if a student agrees that after graduation they will work in places that are short of doctors. This is how Gaensbauer came to live in both the South Pacific and the Yakima Valley.

Gaensbauer, who is originally from Denver, Colo., graduated from medical school at Vanderbilt University. He explained that he chose to go into medicine for a combination of reasons, including a sense of idealistic values and an intense interest in science. Both Gaensbaur's father and grandfather are also doctors.

Gaensbauer said working through the Health Services organization has worked out well for him.

"What I wanted to do was work in underserved communities," Gaensbauer said. "It allows me to work in the environment I want to work in."

Gaensbauer explained that the way Health Services works is that hospitals and clinics apply to be put on the organization's list, which doctors who are part of the Corp. look at when deciding where they want to work.

For Gaensbauer, the move to Grandview was one he chose to make because he wanted to bring his family, including his wife and two young children, back to the continental United States.

Now that he's worked in Grandview for the better part of a year, Gaensbauer, who started at the local clinic in July 2003, said he has found himself enjoying the experience. Gaensbauer said he now has his own list of patients, but also sees walk-ins regularly.

Gaensbauer said he finds it rewarding to work in pediatrics because of the resilience of children.

"Pediatrics [offers] the opportunity for a child to walk in very sick and in the short term to walk out completely better," Gaensbauer said. "It's a satisfying population."

Although Gaensbauer works every day at the Grandview Farm Worker's Clinic, he chose to move his family to Prosser. He explained that all doctors from the local clinic admit their patients to Prosser Memorial Hospital, and therefore each doctor spends a fair amount of time at the Prosser facility.

"It's easier to be closer to the hospital," he said.

Gaensbauer said even though he is still working through the Health Services Corp., he will likely be at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic for at least three years.

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