Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) —
Patients and healthcare professionals in the Indian Wells Valley are thrilled with the return of Dr. Andrew Modic, who has already begun seeing patient in both adult and pediatric clinics of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s Rural Health.
“We are so excited to have him back!” said Amanda Booth, LVN and manager of the Rural Health clinic. “There are providers we have worked with who leave and we never hear from them again. Dr. Modic is one who kept in touch with everyone. His first day back he immediately started asking how everyone was doing — remembering us by name even after two years.”
“His previous patients have been calling nonstop to make an appointment … we already have a waiting list!” Booth said that RRH staff are working through the process of credentialing Modic with the insurance companies so that patients can make an appointment.
“Dr. Modic is fantastic. I am so glad that he enjoyed Ridgecrest enough to come back,” said Kourtney Potts, nursing resource lead at RRH. “He is very popular with his patients — very compassionate, takes his time, thorough.
“He has earned the trust of his patients and the confidence of parents in the pediatric clinics. Even when the patient is a baby, he talks directly to a child. I think the kids feel safe in his presence.”
“It feels great to be back!” said Dr. Modic.
“I’m already seeing a lot of the same patients that I was seeing before. Some of the children I met as newborns are now 4 years old. It is nice getting caught up with them. Same with my adult patients!”
During his previous service at RRH, he was a hospitalist as well as a physician for internal medicine and pediatric patients.
He left in 2021 to accept an assignment from the National Health Service Corps at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It is one of the poorest, most medically underserved regions of the country.
“I did not have plans to leave Ridgecrest,” said Dr. Modic, but he got a call during a severe medical shortage. “I did not believe I could turn them down.”
Serving in a community with such limited resources was an adventure, to say the least. “You realize very quickly what really matters,” he said. “You learn to navigate very complicated illnesses and medical issues, and dealing with the medical system becomes a skill in and of itself.
“Pine Ridge has one of the lowest life expectancies of any community in the country. You learn to appreciate systems like we have in Ridgecrest, which are generally better staffed and better funded. You learn not to take for granted what you have.”
He said that he appreciates all he learned on his previous assignment, but is happy to be back. “I like working in Ridgecrest, I like the community — I feel a part of the community here,” he said. He has been active in several clubs, including Toastmasters. “They are a really great group. I know that every small town has some very special things — and Toastmasters is one of ours.” He said that the opportunity to improve public speaking and communication is important in any profession — including that of a physician.
Dr. Modic also has a passion for rural medicine. “There are so many aspects of rural care that you don’t see in the big city. One of the most important is being the intermediary between the patient and the specialist. I enjoy doing that and it’s important for the patient to have that support.
“For adults, especially those with disabilities, traveling long distances is difficult. From a child’s perspective, everything is far away. Part of my job is to navigate the healthcare system and expand the care of a specialist so that I can help meet the needs of the patients.”
Being an advocate is becoming an increasingly important part of providing care, he said. “The healthcare system is so complicated … if you are a healthy 25 year old, maybe you don’t need a lot of support. But as you get older, or experience more issues with your health, it’s important to have help. Establishing a primary care doctor can give you the help that we all eventually need.”
Dr. Modic’s impressive education includes two engineering degrees, a doctorate of medicine, and board certifications in both internal and pediatric medicine. His accolades include the Les Sockwell Humanitarian Award in 2018 and the Director’s Award for Pandemic Heroism for the Indian Health Service in 2021.
He has served as an assistant clinical professor at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine since 2021, where he supports a positive learning environment and the particular aspects of serving as physician in a rural setting.
In South Dakota, he was the physician leader of a patient-centered medical home model, providing outstanding inpatient and outpatient care for both adults and children.
“I am absolutely elated by the return of Dr. Modic,” said Jim Suver, CEO of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. “Recruitment and retention of quality providers is one of the greatest challenges in healthcare — especially in rural settings. To have someone with his experience, dedication, and compassion is an amazing asset to RRH and our community.”