Hospital introduces community’s newest physician
Dec 12, 2007
When Lorinda Parks, MD, was 16, she went on a short mission to West Africa, where she helped build elementary schools. It made a lasting impression on the young woman, who decided mission work would be part of her life. “I feel a desire to serve people,” she said, “and that was a big reason why I chose to become a doctor.”’
Dr. Lorinda Parks and her family
Practicing at Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH), Dr. Parks is on staff at Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH) in Chelan. She, her husband Brad and two children moved to Chelan in October. “We feel very welcomed,” said Parks, who is bilingual and practices family medicine.
Dr. Parks loves family medicine because she gets to know the whole family and develop a partnership to improve health and quality of life. She has a special interest in adolescents, asthma, nutrition for overweight kids, diabetes, mental health, and prenatal care.
Dr. Parks grew up in rural Minnesota and went to medical school at the University of Minnesota. After she finished her residency in North Minneapolis, she stayed on as a family doctor for five years. Besides her medical work, she spent time volunteering with minority youth.
After meeting homeless families and seeing needs up close, she wanted to do more. She and Brad chose to live in a rough area of the city, so they could “provide an alternative example of a peaceful way to live.”
They purchased a gutted-out home in a gang-ridden neighborhood and, with several other people, rebuilt it and donated it to a single mother with seven children. Brad rehabbed several other homes for families, and the couple continued working with minority youth.
After several years, the couple, now with two small children, left Minnesota and moved to the poorest part of Bolivia, South America, so Dr. Parks could serve a medical mission. She went as part of the Curamericas program, which has several long-term clinics in Bolivia and Guatamala.
The Parks lived in a ghetto of more than million people high in the Andes, at 13,300 feet elevation, almost as high as the peak of Mount Ranier. It was so cold, Brad said, you could almost always see your breath, even inside. Their family would spend evenings huddled around a little heater in their tiny adobe brick home.
Conditions at the clinic were just as harsh. There was no heat and no hot water. Mothers would deliver babies in 45-degree temperatures and leave two hours later, babies strapped to their backs, said Parks. There were high rates of infant and maternal mortality, and Parks treated a lot of malnutrition and resulting complications. “The Bolivians were the toughest individuals I’ve ever met,” she said. “We could have clearly stayed a lifetime there, serving the people.”
The family, however, decided to return to the states. As they wanted to live where they could keep using their Spanish – and where they could help minority populations, the Parks did an Internet search of school systems, looking for districts with at least 50% hispanic students. That led them to Central Washington.
Before leaving Bolivia, they found two young native women who wanted to become doctors. The couple is sponsoring the students so they can attend medical school and eventually fill Dr. Parks’ position at the Bolivian clinic.
The small-town atmosphere of Chelan is much different from the cities the Parks have lived in for the last several years. “We love it here,” she said. “I really like the connections and seeing my patients around town.”
Dr. Parks has started a cooking group for mothers interested in preparing healthy food for their families. She also sees patients during a Thursday night clinic at CVCH. Call 682-6000 for more information.
Dr. Parks enjoys outdoor activities with her husband, a stay-at-home dad, and two children, Zaydra, 6, and Nevlyn, 4. They especially like canoeing, hiking, biking and camping. Dr. Parks also enjoys reading and looks forward to becoming part of the community.