Monday, November 30, 2020

DR. JOSEPH VICKARYOUS: Profile of a family Physician

Dr. Joe and his family.

Dr. Joe and his family.

By Jane Marlowe

janem@coastalbreezenews.com

Dr. Joseph Vickaryous has been practicing medicine on Marco Island since January 2010. His practice, Marco Island Medical Center, is located at 960 North Collier Blvd. That is also the location where Henry and Zsa Zsa, Marco’s famous rooster and hen couple reside. As a matter of fact, one of Dr. Vickaryous’ staff, Diane Baker is much beloved by Henry. She makes sure he and his new companion are well fed and have fresh water daily.

Dr. Vickaryous was born in Alaska where his family has lived for several decades. In 1935, during the Great Depression, his grandfather and grandmother were one of the original 202 colonial families selected to settle in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley as part of a New Deal Federal Government Program.

The Matanuska Colony Project offered resettlement in Alaska to families from upper Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The project provided land for about 200 families who knew how to endure a cold climate and for whom the Alaska weather would be tolerable. The families were selected based on their diversified farming skills, leadership qualities and skills supporting the settlement such as carpentry and blacksmithing.

In 2010, Dr. Vickaryous’ family, including his three older brothers and their families, returned to Alaska to participate in the 75th anniversary of the Matanuska Colony Project. The Vickaryous family still has many relatives living and working in Alaska.

When Dr. Vickaryous was two years old his family moved to Naples, Florida. He attended Seagate Elementary School, Pine Ridge Middle School and graduated from Barron Collier High School.

He graduated from the University of South Florida, Tampa before entering the University of Health Sciences, Kansas City, MO., on an Army scholarship. Dr. Vickaryous pledged five years as a U.S. Army medical doctor, first in El Paso, Texas and four years in South Korea. He was a flight surgeon caring for the needs of army personnel and their families.

Dr. Vickaryous’ wife was able to accompany him to Korea where their first two children were born. The children like to tell their teachers they are Korean but since they were born in a U.S. Army hospital, they are Americans from birth.

When his five years of active duty were completed, the family moved back stateside to Ft. Lauderdale. Dr. Vickaryous worked and trained at Nova Southeastern University before deciding to move back to Southwest Florida where he started his practice on Marco Island.

“It is a family practice from pediatrics all the way to geriatrics, from little ones to seniors. I like being able to take care of the whole family. It is imperative that any one member does not get lost in the medical system in their time of need.”

The practice has grown exponentially as the first patients recommended the doctor to their families and neighbors. “I begin with one patient in a certain condo and then I find that I am treating nearly every resident in the building.” In some cases, Dr. Vickaryous commented, “I might be the only person whom some patients see beside the neighbors who drive them to the office. Some residents have no one to help them make important medical decisions. I have learned to understand the social needs of many of my patients and help them make decisions about their changing health care needs.”

In addition to his office on Marco Island, Dr. Vickaryous provides medical care to residents in a number of assisted living facilities and is a physician with VITAS Hospice. He visits patients who are receiving care at home and at the VITAS Hospice Unit at Physician’s Regional Medical Center. He meets once a week with Vitas staff to review the status of his patients and plan for their continuing care.

Office hours at the Marco Island Medical Center are Monday through Thursday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM and on Friday from 9:00AM to noon with the afternoon set aside to visit residents at one or more assisted living facilities where Dr. Vickaryous provides onsite care.

Marco Island Medical Center offers many onsite labs and tests for the convenience of their patients. Dr Vickaryous uses non invasive ultrasounds as a preliminary diagnostic tool for disease such as coronary artery disease (CAD).

The medical center boasts a staff of six, Dr. Vickaryous, an office manager, two patient coordinators, a nurse, and a recently hired physician’s assistant, Geremiah Krause P.A.-C.

Geremiah Krause, who joined the Marco Island Medical Center team in October, is a graduate of the Nova Southeastern University physician assistant program. Geremiah and his new bride Teresa live on Marco Island. He is also a medical officer for the U.S. Army National Guard.

Dr. Vickaryous enjoys meeting new patients and sharing his own love of Marco Island and South Florida with them. For you fishing enthusiasts out there, he claims to know where some of the best fishing sites are located! “Most patients, either residents or visitors, are excited to be here and they help to keep the atmosphere upbeat and very positive in spite of their pressing health concerns.”

What does the future hold? Dr. Vickaryous expects to be here on Marco Island for a long time and will bring in another physician when the practice requires expansion. His focus is one patient at a time. “People are very unique with their own hopes and their personal medical preferences. I consider them part of our team when I am working with them. The patient is the boss and I am there to listen to his or her story and lay out the options available. It is not my place to impose my medical will but rather help each patient make a good, thoughtful decision about health care.”

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