I first met Dr. Tom Young when I came as Pastor of Crest Baptist Church in August of 1994. He had already been serving as a physician in Creston for five years. I was immediately impressed by his grasp of a wide range of disciplines beyond medicine. A voracious reader with the closest to a photographic memory that I’ve encountered, Tom’s ability to recall information, even citing the page of the book astounded me. Tom’s intellect and size (a former heavy-weight wrestler at Drake) caused some to be intimidated. As I’ve talked to a few that were intimidated by Tom’s wealth of knowledge, my response was always, “Don’t you want a smart doctor?” It’s been my personal observation that Tom was almost always the smartest person in the room at any gathering.
I’m not naïve enough to think that he never used that intimidation factor to his advantage. I’ve faced him on a racquet ball court! However, he was not one to “suffer a fool” in his profession of medicine. Because he was up on current research and procedures in medical practice through medical journals and seminars, he expected as much from other health care providers. But often, such intimidation was only the perception of those who did not really know Tom. When he encountered individuals, who were truly desirous of improving their own skills, Tom was a ready instructor.
Early in my ministry at Crest, I asked Tom if he had ever considered doing short-term medical missions. His response was that rural Southwest Iowa was his mission field. While he had the opportunity to practice in more affluent communities, Tom’s Christian compassion led him to come to an area that at the time was underserved by the internal medicine specialty. That concern kept him in our community all these years. And beyond the medical care he offered our area, he was a financial benefactor to many of the non-profits of our community, seeking to make Creston a better place in which to plant deep roots.
Tom’s attitude toward short-term medical missions changed, and he subsequently made numerous trips to Venezuela and Peru. Taking medical supplies, some donated but much secured at personal expense, he treated some of the poorest people, who subsisted from the resources gleaned from a city dump. But perhaps his greatest influence was on the indigenous health care providers as he gave instruction for their future diagnoses and treatment of illnesses they encountered.
You may have noticed that the references in this letter are in the past tense. This could be construed as a eulogy of Tom. It has been intentionally written in that way. Although Tom is in good health and is not retiring from medical practice, the closing of Internal Medicine Consultants was not by his choosing. And for that reason it symbolizes a death in our community. Many are mourning this announcement, and it is not settling well with most of us who have been served so well by Tom. It is the death of what many have found to be quality health care in which a doctor takes the extended time with you, has a history with you and prays with you if you are so inclined. It represents almost the last of independent primary care in our community, that while working in collaboration with the hospital, is not controlled by a business model that appears quota based. It represents the slow death of our national health care system that many of us have known all our lives as a personal relationship with one’s physician.
Farewell Dr. Tom and Cindy Young, Dr. Carey Wimer, Sherri Seago, and Holly Schutz. Your care and presence as medical providers in Union County will be sorely missed. Godspeed!
Chuck and Myra Spindler