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When It Comes to Surgery…

This hospital was founded because community leaders saw a need for quality local care. More than 100 years later, NOCHS is still living up to that dream and promise. Surgery is a case in point. Here are some thoughts from Dr. Zachary Horton, General Surgeon, about the about working at NOCHS and the patient experience.

Q: Why does a surgeon choose to work at a community hospital like NOCHS? 
A. Good surgeons get to choose where they want to live and work because their skill gives them that opportunity. I deliberately chose a community-based health system over big city medicine. My dad was a dentist in Shelby. I watched him build a community practice, and I wanted that same sense of connectedness to my patients. I want to feel like I am part of something local. I chose NOCHS because I can have a huge impact on a small community, working for a hospital that really needs good surgeons.

Q: How do surgeons know they’ve succeeded in their profession? Is it based on where you work?
A. For me, being at the pinnacle of my profession is being able to cure people. Quite honestly, surgery is like any skill…you need to practice frequently to stay sharp. So for me, being able to do multiple surgeries every day means I am doing exactly what I went to school to achieve. I’m connected to patients and I’m helping to effect cures.

Q: Do you think a patient will have as good a surgical experience at NOCHS as they would at a larger hospital?
A. I’ve been here for five years now and I can honestly say you will have a better experience at NOCHS.  From a medical standpoint, there’s no question. Our staff is excellent. Our outcomes are excellent. On top of that, it’s a lot more convenient to come to NOCHS. Surgery is already stressful…why make it worse? For starters, you don’t have a 45-minute drive each way. You can pull right up to the covered entrance and have the valet take your car (for free, of course). When you come in for surgery, you’ll go about 20 steps down the hall and voila! You’re there. You won’t get lost, and you won’t have to walk forever. And perhaps the biggest thing is timeliness. Our surgical suites run on schedule. There’s rarely any kind of delay. So it’s easy to get in, easy to find your way, we’re punctual, and you get a great result. To me, that’s a better experience all-around than you will get in a large hospital.

Q: What is challenging about working at NOCHS? 
A. Working at a community hospital means you can’t hide. If I provided low-quality care, everyone in the community would know about it. To overcompensate, I work hard to stay on top of the latest techniques and tools so that my patients have the best possible outcomes. And because I’m a general surgeon, I need to keep current on many different types of procedures and disease treatments. That’s challenging in and of itself. I never know what I’ll be called upon to do!

Q: Have you ever worked at another health system?  What would you say is different at NOCHS?  
A. Yes, I attended medical school at MSU and did my residency in Grand Rapids, and then I worked in Petoskey, so I have pretty varied experience. Since I’ve been at NOCHS, the big difference I’ve noticed is the patient experience. Patients always comment on how happy the staff seems to be. It’s like they can’t quite get used to the idea of happy healthcare workers. They talk about how personable the experience was, and how much their providers cared. And that’s the essence of a community hospital. These people are your neighbors and they treat you like a neighbor. You’re getting a really high-quality surgery without sacrificing the personal experience.

Zachary Horton, MD graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and completed his residency at Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center.

NOCHS General Surgery Office
1445 Sheldon Rd., Suite 304, Grand Haven
Phone: 616.844.4720

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