2017 Country Doctor of the Year Keeps a Light Shining in Eastern Kentucky Coal Country

Dr. Van Breeding Maintains Health and Hope during Troubled Times

Contact: Phil Miller / 469-524-1420 / phil.miller@amnhealthcare.com

IRVING, Texas – Dr. Van Breeding stands at the confluence of societal ills that are threatening the well being of his home region of Eastern Kentucky. Unemployment and the poverty rate stand at over 25 percent. Opiate addiction is common. Many former coal miners suffer from black lung and other respiratory illnesses. The challenges are many, but Dr. Breeding, through his tireless efforts and extraordinary dedication to his patients, keeps a light shining in an area in critical need of uplift.

For his exceptional record of commitment and service, Dr. Breeding has been named 2017 Country Doctor of the Year.

Presented by Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare company, the Country Doctor of the Year Award recognizes the spirit, skill, and dedication of America’s rural medical practitioners. The leading temporary physician staffing firm in the United States, Staff Care has presented the national award since 1992 to exemplary physicians practicing in communities of 30,000 or less.

“Dr. Breeding is more than an outstanding primary care physician,” said Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care. “He is one of the pillars on which his community stands. The people, the health system, and the economy of his region simply could not do without him.”

Dr. Breeding, the son of a coal mine worker who was blind by age 50, is a native of Letcher County, Kentucky, the area he now serves. With nearby Harlan and Hazard Counties, Letcher County is in the heart of the coal mine economy that has recently collapsed, leaving many out of work.

Upon completing medical school and residency at the University of Kentucky in 1991, Dr. Breeding chose to practice with Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation in Whitesburg, one of over 1,600 community health centers nationwide catering to poor and uninsured patients. On an average day, Dr. Breeding puts in 16 hours of work, rounding on patients at the hospital at 5 in the morning, seeing some 40 patients in the clinic, and often rounding on nursing home patients in the evening. He also continues to make house calls to bed-ridden patients.

His impact on the community has been incalculable. The clinic had five practitioners when Dr. Breeding arrived and now has 36. It has expanded from two sites of service to seven. Dr. Breeding has implemented anti-narcotic protocols to cope with the fallout of an epidemic of opiate addictions. In the heart of the diabetes and sugar belt, he has been instrumental in supporting nutrition programs such as the “vegetable pharmacy” in which patients can turn in prescriptions for free fruits and vegetables. In a pioneering program, he broke down local cultural stigmas to increase the rate of colon cancer screening from 18 percent to 60 percent and was consequently asked by the Centers for Disease Control to blog on colon cancer screening.

Describing himself as a “hillbilly doctor,” Dr. Breeding remains attached to Appalachian culture and counts Ralph Stanley, Jr., son of the legendary bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley, as his patient, as well as Lee Sexton, one of the last of the true mountain banjo players. Dr. Breeding has been instrumental in keeping open the Carcassone Community Center, home of the longest running community square dance in Kentucky, and has supported many other community efforts.

“My heart is in these hills and with these people,” Dr. Breeding said. “My patients are my friends and in many cases my relatives. I can’t imagine living or practicing anywhere else.”

As the 2017 Country Doctor of the Year, Dr. Breeding will be able to enjoy two weeks of time off, as Staff Care will provide a temporary physician to fill in for him at no charge, a service valued at approximately $10,000. He also will receive the award’s signature plaque featuring a country doctor making his rounds on a horse and buggy, an engraved stethoscope, and a monogrammed lab coat. Additional information about the Country Doctor of the Year Award can be found at www.countrydoctoraward.com.

About Staff Care and AMN Healthcare

Staff Care is a leading healthcare staffing firm providing temporary physicians, advanced practitioners and dentists to hospitals, medical groups, government facilities, and other healthcare organizations nationwide. Staff Care is a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN) and is the sponsor the Country Doctor of the Year Award. For more information about AMN Healthcare, please visit www.amnhealthcare.com.

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