By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – When Cookeville Regional Medical Center set out to find its new Emergency Department Medical Director, leaders were concerned about finding the right person to lead one of the facility’s busiest departments.
Enter Dr. Ken Colaric, MD, FACEP, and midwest-native who has been serving as CRMC’s Emergency Department Medical Director since March 1.
Prior to trekking to the Upper Cumberland, Colaric most recently lived and worked in Missouri, where he served as the medical director, chairman of the quality committee, and vice chief of staff for St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs.
“What drew me to this location was the interest of everyone involved to do what was best for the patient, to grow the facility, to continue doing high-quality patient care,” Colaric said. “I did not run into any person here that seemed to be even a remote barrier. Everyone is eager to work together.”
What drew him to emergency medicine, meanwhile, is the spontaneity and variety each day and each patient brings – a far cry from his original plans to become an orthopedic surgeon.
“There’s no day that’s exactly the same as the other,” he said of emergency medicine. “You walk in and it’s just something different every day. The challenge of being able to deal with whatever comes at you keeps it fresh.”
Colaric earned his Doctor of Medicine from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. and completed an Emergency Medicine Residency at Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies in Kalamazoo, Mich. He’s also served as the Medical Director for EMS programs throughout Missouri, was the assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Section of Emergency Medicine and is a certified flight physician.
“I’ve been at facilities as small as 10,000 (ER visits annually) and I’ve been at facilities (that see) 68,000 (ER visits annually),” he said.
Cookeville Regional, Colaric says, has an annual ER patient volume – right at 55,000 visits each year – that’s well within his comfort zone.
“It’s still small enough that one person can still maintain control and awareness of everything that’s going on,” he said. “Dr. (Sullivan) Smith has done such a nice job with building bridges that it’s easy to communicate and be aware of everything that’s going on.”
Smith stepped down from the post of medical director of the emergency department at CRMC earlier this year. Since taking the helm in March of this year, Colaric has been able to meet with many of the hospital’s physicians and get to know the staff of CRMC along the way.
“From my perspective, I think the reception has been very well,” Colaric said, referring to the response of his coming on board at CRMC. “I’m still new (and) I’m aware of that. I’m still learning from my mentor, my predecessor. I’m very pleased (here).”
But when he’s not working, Colaric enjoys spending time with his family, who joined him in Cookeville at the beginning of April.
“I’m still getting the lay of the land,” he said. “I love it (here).”
Colaric, who is married and has three children, ages 27, 24, and 20, visited the area – which had coincidentally been on his list of potential places of residence for some time – approximately three times before making the decision to accept the position at CRMC.
The one potential conflict Colaric sees with living and working in Tennessee is his devotion to his hometown hockey team.
“I’ve played hockey since the age of five and I’m a Chicago Blackhawks fan,” he said with a laugh.
Although, he admitted he’s attended a handful of Nashville Predators games since arriving to the midstate.
To learn more about the emergency department at Cookeville Regional, visit crmchealth.org/find-physician/department/emergency-medicine or call (931) 528-2541.