Dr. Mark Ivey is leaving it up to God.
Whether or not he stays in Payson for the remainder of his life, how much longer he continues practicing medicine and the decisions he makes on a daily basis are all in God's hands, he said.
Ivey, who describes himself as honest, happy and spiritually-driven, is clearly all of those things. His history of helping others and successful medical career would also indicate his propensity toward selflessness.
The reserved doctor eases himself into a break room chair in the bottom floor of a large-scale medical complex that he has been working out of for nearly 30 years.
His crisp, stark white coat dangles below his waist. He is well dressed and courteous and his direct responses and unwavering calmness prove that he knows what he wants out of life.
"Ever since I was a little kid, I felt like God wanted me to help people," he said.
And help people he has.
He has been practicing medicine in the Rim Country since earning his medical degree from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1977.
He specializes in family practice medicine these days, but throughout his career, has run the gamut as far as medical procedures go.
There is a collage displayed on a wall in his complex with pictures of nearly 100 babies he's delivered. He tells a story about a little strawberry-blond girl and what became of her, almost as if it was his own granddaughter. He points out a current Payson High School baseball player, then in diapers.
He recalls with a smile, a time when he performed his own surgeries and set his patients' fractures.
The quality of medical care available to Rim Country residents has immensely improved in the last three decades, he said. He's proud to have been part of the progression.
Ivey helped in the establishment of clinics in Young, Pine-Strawberry and Tonto Basin, where he still occasionally practices.
"Helping people -- there's no greater privilege than taking someone who's ill and making them better, both physically and spiritually," he said.
It's something he's definitely good at.
Other physicians selected him as the Rural Physician of the Year in 2004 for the state of Arizona.
He was also awarded the Sattenspiel Award from the Arizona Medical Association -- an organization he served as president of from 1989-1990 -- for his contributions to medicine in the state in 2005.
Ivey said he plans on improving health care in Payson even further.
"I see my practice as a continuum -- I want to bring some sanity back to health care in Payson," he said.
Ivey said that the Payson Regional Medical Center and its staff is the best facility of its size in the state.
It's obvious that he is encouraged by the progress that the Rim Country has experienced in health care in the time he's been here. It's equally obvious that his drive is stronger than ever.
"I'd love to see this community come together and help each other," he said. "I'd like to see it healthy, as a place that everyone would want to live."
As for his personal goals, Ivey wants only to know that he left a positive impact on the community.
"I want someday to be able to say Mark Ivey made a difference," he said. "The truth is, I'm leaving it in [God's] hands."