A large crowd turned out Thursday to tour the remodeled and soon-to-be-reopened Moore County Hospital District (MCHD) Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic and meet the three ob/gyn physicians who will be helping Moore County women with their reproductive and gynecological health needs. The clinic officially reopened for patients January 20.
Drs. Shaun Jester, Glena Davis, and Stephanie Diehlmann will be offering a wide variety of services, from routine gynecological care to surgery. "We are a women's health clinic," said Diehlmann. "We take care of women who are pregnant or other women's needs, like Pap smears, cancer screenings, and any female problems they may have." And, "we all deliver babies at the hospital."
Jester and Diehlmann have already been at work delivering babies. On January 2, Jester delivered Elaine Alcantar, the first baby born in 2020 in Moore County. Jester, who completed his residency in 2004 and has been practicing in Ohio and Lubbock, has been in Dumas a month waiting for the clinic to be ready. Originally from Amarillo, Jester says he is pleased to be practicing in Dumas. "It is a good fit," he said. Diehlmann, a graduate of Ohio State University, came to Dumas in 2017 after more than a decade of medical practice -- part of which as a missionary doctor at a Nazarene Hospital in Papua, New Guinea -- to help establish The Well Health Center, a primary care clinic in Cactus within the Cactus Nazarene Ministries. She will continue to divide her time between the Cactus clinic and her ob/gyn practice.
Davis, a native of Houston, has been in Dumas a week. "We love it," she said. "It feels like home." She comes to Dumas from Odessa where she completed her residency at Texas Tech in 2011 and practiced medicine until her move to Dumas.
The MCHD Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic was one of two ob/gyn practices in Dumas until 2018, when both Dr. Richard Chudacoff and Dr. Lauren Schaub, the two practicing physicians at the clinic, left to pursue career opportunities elsewhere. Their departure left the practice of Drs. Gordon and Judy Graham to fill in the gap until replacements for Chudacoff and Schaub could be recruited. With the MCHD clinic scheduled to reopen in January and Diehlmann and Jester able to see patients, the Grahams retired from their 17-year Dumas ob/gyn practice in December. Moore County managed to avoid the fate of many rural Texas counties and most Panhandle counties: not having any ob/gyn physicians at all.
Moore County is one of the few counties of the Texas Panhandle to have ob/gyn physicians. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state, in general, and the Panhandle, in particular, face a severe shortage. The problem is especially bad in rural areas, and, according to the department, there is no sign of things improving in the foreseeable future. With nearly 40 percent of ob/gyn physicians older than 55 and likely to retire in the not too distant future, the number of physicians in rural areas is almost certain to continue to decline, according to the department. Though the state has been producing more ob/gyn physicians in recent years, most end up working in the urban areas along I-35. Even in the Panhandle, the vast majority work in Amarillo. Combined with rural hospital closings and a general shortage of physicians outside major cities, the shortage of ob/gyn physicians in rural areas has meant that many women across the state have to drive long distances to gain access to specialized gynecological and reproductive care.
"We are really thrilled to be opening the new Moore County ob/gyn office," said Moore County Hospital District CEO Jeff Turner at the open house. "Moore County has a long history of taking care of the obstetrical and gynecological needs of the women of Moore County, and with the retirement of the Grahams and all new providers, this opens a new chapter in that service for us, and we are just happy to do it knowing that the women of Moore County deserve the best, and we are happy to deliver that for them."
The clinic is located at 1515 East 1st Street, Suite #100 in Dumas.