Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Finding a new family doctor is a difficult challenge – one that can take months or even years. Dr. David Cook, one of the doctors at the Knox Winamac Community Health Center (KWCHC), understands that struggle and does his best to make every new patient feel comfortable in the examination room. His goal with each patient is to provide the education and motivation needed to get and stay healthy.
Cook was first inspired to become a family medicine doctor by his childhood doctor in Texas, Dr. George Snell.
“He was a part of the community and took care of our whole family,” Cook says. “It was really good. I really respected him and that made a big impact on me.”
After getting his bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University, Cook spent his first two years of medical school at St. George’s University in Grenada. The next step on his medical journey involved clinical rotations, which took place in London before he transferred to the states, where he participated in rotations in California, Utah and New York. Cook completed his residency in Savannah, Georgia.
Studying all over the world has impacted the way Cook practices medicine. Learning about and observing the health care system in London influenced him the most.
“Being seen as a patient and having our daughter born there, and seeing people under their national health service really made an impact on me,” he says.
In particular, he was affected by the different attitudes of people facing medical crises.
“I don’t want my people to be afraid like that,” Cook says. “People are fundamentally the same. They might have different drives and different reasons for the things they do, but fundamentally people want to be happy and they want to be respected.”
From the first moment a new or returning patient walks into the examination room, Cook aims to set their mind at ease by treating them with respect.
“A good example is smoking cessation,” Cook says. “A lot of people who smoke get really defensive if you bring up stopping smoking. They’ve had other doctors before wag their finger at them and tell them how bad it is. What I find works the best is making sure they understand, but nothing is really going to work until they’re ready – helping them understand that when they are ready to take that step, I would be glad to help.”
Cook also makes himself easily accessible to his patients.
“A big part of that is making sure they feel comfortable to either call or send an email, or make a visit without necessarily much of an appointment ahead of time,” Cook says. “They can feel comfortable just talking to me.”
Cook also wants to help his patients understand what is going on internally, and motivate them to change aspects of their health when needed.
“A big part of my role as a doctor is education and motivation,” he says. “When people understand what’s going on with them, they’re more likely to make good choices as far as their health care. So I think it’s a win-win. They understand what’s going on better, they do better, and I feel better as a doctor.”
Cook has a passion for rural medicine. When he was presented with an opportunity a little more than a year ago to join KWCHC in Knox, he accepted.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know people and taking care of the whole family over time,” Cook says. “I just like being the family doc.”
The Knox Winamac Community Health Center is located at 1002 Edgewood Drive in Knox. Visit them online at kwchc.net. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Cook, call 574-772-6030 or email email@example.com.
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