|February marks milestone for clinic|
By Jan Goff
The Colglazier Clinic made its 30-year mark this month with both Dr. Cliff Colglazier and Dr. Ruth Demmel humbly declaring—it’s not about them—it’s about support and dedication from their colleagues, the community and their staff.
Each has memories galore of their beginnings, and tales to tell about the years of providing medical care to patients in the region.
Their dedication to the community they serve is apparent in the trust they have built, the friendships they have fostered, and the tenderness and empathy they exude.
Both physicians are quick to establish the understanding that their success is due to the those who have supported them and assisted them throughout their careers.
“We work together, that’s why it has been a good medical community,” Dr. Cliff said, recalling retired nurses Marion Hodde, Nan Wassman and Jackie Rezac, along with Drs. Potts, Bottom, and Doc Colglazier—his father who greatly influenced his desire to pursue the medical field.
He and Dr. Demmel also credit the entities that collaborate with patient care, i.e. medical records, x-ray, the hospital itself, and the visiting physicians.
He also commended the fire department. “There isn’t a more dedicated emergency department anywhere than here in Perkins County,” said Dr. Cliff. “They do emergency calls at the drop of a hat, and they’re always willing.”
In 1983, Dr. Ruth Demmel joined his practice, and the clinic was expanded from two exam rooms to four exam rooms, an office, and a large waiting room.
In addition to celebrating the clinic’s 30-year anniversary, Dr. Cliff, as his patients affectionately call him, turned 60 this month on Friday the 13th.
The clinic at 9th and Washington in Grant commemorated 30 years with a banner in the waiting room and lots of reminiscing.
Clifford Colglazier, M.D.
Dr. Cliff grew up in the Grant community, the son of the late Ernest (Doc) and late Alberta Colglazier who had their own clinic in their home at the corner of 5th and Washington for nearly 40 years.
“Cliff always wanted to be a doctor and come back to Grant,” said his wife, Janie. After completing his residency in Des Moines, he checked out openings at Sidney, Imperial, Holyoke, Lexington, Bridgeport, Oberlin, Kan., and Grant.
His heart was set on coming back to Grant, said Janie. “He said, ‘We have to look but I really want to go to Grant.’”
Not only did he want to return, but always wanted to practice in an office attached to a house—so it was built.
After finishing his residency in July 1978, it took until February 1979 to get their present home/clinic built and ready to be functional for seeing patients.
“Sometimes it’s wonderful; sometimes it’s awful!” laughed Janie, explaining it was difficult for their young children to understand why a kid was screaming in the clinic a few yards away.
Their children, Doug, Tim and Analisa, are all grown up now.
Doug was two when they moved to Grant. He is married and works as a corporate manager in Minneapolis.
Tim lives in Grant where he is an information tech assistant at the hospital and works in his parents’ medical office. He and his wife Ashley have an 11-month-old daughter.
Analisa is an R.N. in the emergency room at Cheyenne. Her husband Scott teaches science at Perkins County High School.
Over the years, the combination of a home/clinic has worked well for the Colglazier family.
“I knew I’d never see him if his office was downtown,” said Janie.
In the first five years of his practice, Dr. Cliff saw as many as 80 patients a day.
“Cliff was younger then,” laughed Janie. “He’s still amazed how many were seen in those early years.”
Nowadays, a typical day for him at the Colglazier Clinic is 40 patients.
In the beginning while in solo practice, his father helped out—Doc Colglazier, who was semi-retired, saw patients with milder illnesses.
Dr. Cliff remembers all the patient transfers (at least 100) he and Janie and their kids made in their private car.
Not wishing to bother the ambulance crew, they would load up the patient, who obviously was not critically ill, and drive them to Denver to a hospital, then enjoy a family outing to a museum or amusement park.
“Cliff has no time off,” said Janie. “If he takes time off, he has to work twice as hard to go and then it’s all waiting when he gets back”—such as was the case over the weekend when he was escaping for a family getaway to celebrate these two special occasions.
Also a local graduate, Janie no doubt had piles awaiting her also. She has always worked at least part-time in the office, does the cleaning, all of the laundry, and works behind the scenes, putting at least 30 hours per week. She said they have been fortunate to have excellent staff through the years.
The house/clinic setting sounds familiar to the way Dr. Cliff’s parents handled their medical treatment of patients working out of their home.
Janie said it’s a fun coincidence that Dr. Cliff’s parents, Doc and Alberta, also started their practice in the month of February—in 1941.
Ruth Demmel, M.D.
Dr. Demmel echoes the sentiment of excellent staff, along with the cohesiveness of herself and Dr. Cliff.
She said they have always worked together for the betterment of their patients in the community. They rely on each other’s skills, their staff, and hospital personnel to do what’s best for a patient.
“That’s the spirit of cooperativeness, not competitiveness,” said Dr. Demmel. “We know some patients go back and forth, but we don’t fight about that.”
Because there are so many unpredictable moments with patients, the staff in the clinic are even more appreciated by the doctors.
“We couldn’t do it without our staff,” said Demmel. When scheduling gets hard, the unforeseen arises, or adjustments need to be made, they always have a way of making it flow, she said.
Caring for patients is what the two of them love doing. It’s all about caring for the community, not the financial end, said Demmel.
“Our reward is doing for others—that’s what keeps you in it.”
Demmel’s husband Dennis farms north of Grant. Their three grown children include Paul, an equity trader for UBS in Stamford, Conn.; Sara, working on her master’s in economics at the University of San Francisco; and Laura, a senior at UNL majoring in ag economics public policy.