Dr. Mark Ivey, MD, officially became semi-retired last summer, but still makes rounds and sees patients at Rim Country Health where he serves as the medical director. He shares the duties with Dr. Jaber Abawi, MD, MRCP. Ivey is also the medical director for Payson Home Health.
Ivey likes the pace at RCH. “I can spend the time the patient needs,” he said. He can take time to listen to what they have to say and ask more detailed questions about how they’re feeling; but perhaps more importantly, visit with them. Often he is seeing someone who hasn’t had anyone just visit in several weeks.
“Taking time with patients is a joy for us,” said his wife and right hand, Sandy.
The job isn’t a new one for the longtime Payson physician; he was the facility’s medical director when it first opened its doors years ago. Rim Country Health is a whole new place though.
“The environment is so much nicer since Harvey Pelovsky and his partners bought it and started making improvements.
“The changes the new owners have made are tremendous,” Ivey said. The staff is the best he’s ever worked with, he added.
“There is no better physiotherapy department around and we have lots of specialists available,” he said.
He likes the fact that all the department heads meet regularly to identify problems that might exist and then work together on solutions.
That kind of team effort has led to Rim Country Health’s 100 percent results on its regular state survey, which determines if a care facility needs to make improvements. The staff’s attention to details and high level of care has also resulted in one of the lowest rates of return hospital visits. Only 1 percent of its patients return to the hospital for the same issue after the care received at Rim Country Health.
“This is far better than the national standard,” Ivey said.
Since becoming “semi-retired” Ivey has helped Rim Country Health become the new site for the community’s cardiac rehabilitation program, the Mogollon Health Alliance’s MHAX III Cardio-Pulmonary Exercise Program, which is overseen by Dr. Salvatore Gillette. The last few years the program has been provided at the Payson Athletic Club and Curves, both have closed and a new home had to be found for this important resource for Northern Gila County residents.
Ivey and the administration and staff of Rim Country Health are also working on getting an adult day care program operating at the facility. Right now they are doing an assessment for the program’s need.
Reinforcing the close contact and care he is able to provide at Rim Country Health, Ivey holds a monthly program for anyone who wishes to attend. He will discuss a given topic — the most recent one was the difference between a dizzy spell and light-headedness (things spin with a dizzy spell, but don’t with light-headedness) — and then take questions and answers.
“We love what we’re doing here and a lot of that is teaching other caregivers,” he said. “It’s like a big family.”
Anyone who knows Ivey knows how important family is to him. He loves to tell how his grandmother brought her children and other relatives out of Oklahoma during the Great Depression and took them to California. At the border, they were stopped and told they couldn’t come into the state without either $50 or a guaranteed job. No one had either, so the family turned around, came back into Arizona and settled in Ajo.
Later Ivey’s grandmother came to live in Payson and he has considered it “home” for much longer than he has lived here — because this is where his family was. And it is where his family still is — his family of patients and fellow health care providers.