By Sam Aselstine
Troy Ivey is a man on the move.
It’s not that the general surgeon recently joined New River Medical Center’s Physician Clinic after 18 years in private practice in Storm Lake, Iowa; for a variety of reasons, physicians in increasing numbers are moving to hospital-employed positions.
What makes Ivey’s situation unique is his love of running, and running, and running — in the form of 26.2-mile marathons, and lots of them.
“Over the past four years I’ve been working at trying to run a marathon in every state, all 50 states,” Ivey said of his passion for running.
And if competing in marathons in each state weren’t lofty enough of goal, Ivey added a time element to the task.
“The other part of this goal is to get it all done before I’m 50,” Ivey added. “I’m going to be 49 pretty soon, so in order to make everything work out, I’ve had to do that number of races per year.”
Ivey competes in eight or nine marathons each year, a high number for such a grueling event. He has completed the past four Boston Marathons. Ivey competed in a marathon in Idaho last weekend, bringing his tally to 44 states, including Hawaii, Alaska and most of the West Coast. All that remain to complete Ivey’s 50-by-50 list are Maine, Delaware, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska and his home state of Iowa, where it all began.
Ivey was born in Perry, Iowa. His wife is from Perry, Iowa, and they have four children, two boys and two girls. Three of their children have graduated high school with just one child, a 14-year-old daughter, still at home.
When Ivey isn’t meeting the demands of a surgeon or pounding the pavement with his latest running endeavor or spending time with his busy family, he likes to play golf. Ivey also has his pilot’s license and enjoys flying.
Ivey got his undergraduate degree at Iowa State, went to medical school at Des Moines University and did his training for general surgery at Michigan State University. It was there that he met the biggest influence on his career as a surgeon and a role model for life.
“Richard Dean, M.D., who was the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Michigan State University during my residency training, was my biggest mentor,” said Ivey. “He was a very skilled surgeon but also a really great person that cared deeply about family values and morality. He was a role model and someone that I have tried to emulate.”
Ivey took Dean’s teachings and incorporated them into his own philosophy on life and medicine.
“As a general surgeon, I guess where I really try to shine is I try to be very understanding and compassionate towards the patient situation,” he said. “I try to be very down to earth and give them a true sense of trustworthiness.”
Ivey said he was interested in the medical field as a child, but that his decision on where to specialize took a while to come into focus, which it did at Iowa State. Today, he enjoys the feeling of knowing he’s helping people correct and move past their medical issues.
“I really enjoy surgery, because it’s for the most part, you can see the patient, perform the operation, then have a fairly quick recovery,” Ivey said. “Everything’s kind of more on a short-term basis, so that’s the enjoyment part for me, and the attraction.”
Getting back to what he loves, treating and helping patients, was the impetus for the move from private practice to New River Medical Center.
“The primary motivation for me was to get out of private practice and not having to deal so much with billing and reimbursement issues and insurance issues and payrolls and office management and get myself into a hospital-employed position, which I’m at now,” he said “That’s helped a lot as far as making my work easier, I guess, for me where I can just concentrate on doing what I like to do — taking care of patients.”
Ivey began doing just that at the clinic May 1, and he said he’s enjoying his time in his new surroundings.
“This has been nice so far. Very nice,” he said.
“I love the community. I’m just really enjoying it. The hospital staff has been great. I’ve felt very welcome both here in the hospital campus as well as out in the community.”
Ivey said as a newcomer he’d prefer not to comment on the ongoing disagreements between the hospital and physicians at the Monticello Clinic, but offered a statement outlining his views on the community in general.
“I am a strong believer in supporting the institutions and businesses within your local community,” he said. “This simple action not only allows for financial stability of these businesses but it allows for a more cohesive and proud community for which everyone has a sense of ownership.
“New River Medical Center is a large employer for the region that provides excellent health care and contributes greatly to the region. Individual patients or their guardians have the ultimate choice on where to be treated. Our team at NRMC is committed to providing the very best patient-centered care to meet your needs now and in the future.”
Ivey, who played baseball at Iowa State, began running upon completion of his undergraduate degree as a way to stay fit. He completed six marathons immediately upon his completion of college. He took up running marathons again five or six years ago. Ivey says he likes running because it is a good stress reliever, and it makes him feel good physically and emotionally. He also collects pledges for the mileage he completes in each marathon as a way to raise money for St. Mary’s Catholic School in Storm Lake. Ivey has raised about $25,000 to date.
Ivey said he and his wife were active in their Iowa community, and he sees that continuing in Monticello. Until such time that he’s established and well known in the local medical and civic communities, however, you can expect Ivey to be very active and making his rounds, so to say, in another capacity.
“People will see me out running around,” said Ivey, who runs six to 10 miles daily with a 12-to 18-mile run each weekend. “‘There’s that guy. There he is, Forest Gump.’”