‘Best orthopod’ in town: Parks re-establishes medical specialty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Dull moments are rare around John Park’s office.

The sole board certified orthopedic surgeon in Selma, Park, 58, opened his practice Monday at West Central Alabama Orthopedics in the Vaughan Medical Tower. Having tended to patients with hip, knee and shoulder ailments and bone fractures on Tuesday, Park finds a quiet moment in his bare office before he scrubs in for

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“just a simple hip surgery” – the first surgery he will perform in Selma.

“It’s kind of hectic because we’re short on man and womanpower,” Park said.

“We’re trying to put together a good, efficient practice. I’ve always wanted to practice in a small town and work for the hospital and the community.”

Park’s arrival is welcome news among the medical community, said Vaughan Regional Medical Center CEO Barry Keel.

“We’re all extremely encouraged and optimistic and excited about Dr. Parks’ arrival,” Keel said. “The hospital’s been without an orthopedic surgeon for approximately a year and we have been recruiting to re-establish that program.”

“It’s a huge community benefit to treat orthopedic issues that come through the emergency room and treat people in the area that have ailments and bone fractures without them having to drive 60 to 70 miles out of Selma to get that basic service.”

Park is happy to alleviate those inconveniences. He dreams to become “the best orthopod Selma has ever seen.” Orthopod is the slang term for an orthopedic surgeon.

With more than 20 years of orthopedic practice experience, Park comes to Selma from his previous practice in Elizabethtown, Ky. After graduating from New York University, he attended medical school at Catholic Medical College. Parks later completed an internship at Rhode Island Hospital in his hometown of Providence and earned his residency in orthopedic surgery at the Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston, Mass.

Park moved to Providence from South Korea in 1960 with his mother and five siblings.

Park’s father, who was a family physician, moved to the U.S. in 1955 to carve out a life for his family. Influenced by both his father and brother, who’s an orthopedic surgeon in St. Paul, Minn., Park sought to practice medicine in a small town setting.

“My father instilled in me that it’s good to serve the community in small towns,” Park said.

“My personality fits the easy going, Southern atmosphere.”

“I’m impressed with the physicians and patients,” Park continued. “Everyone’s been so friendly and receptive and that’s made my job pleasant and easier.”

Seeing patients living a life of comfort makes the job easier too, Park says. Having a keen interest in hip and knee reconstruction and replacement surgeries, Park said his goal is to “immediately satisfy and relieve chronic pain and disability.”

“I want to give (patients) an excellent lifestyle,” he said.

Keel said VRMC administration is actively recruiting another orthopedic surgeon to join Parks and is working directly with the medical staff to expand the hospital’s 22 medical specialties.

“We’re identifying where the needs are,” Keel said. “As our population ages and things happen in life, we have a plan for transition and succession.”