Dr. Nathaniel Rieb said he was not looking to get away from Powell Valley Healthcare when he recently accepted a job at Billings Clinic. Instead, it was an opportunity to expand on what he loves …
Dr. Nathaniel Rieb said he was not looking to get away from Powell Valley Healthcare when he recently accepted a job at Billings Clinic. Instead, it was an opportunity to expand on what he loves about PVHC, which is rural healthcare.
“The job found me,” Rieb said. “PVHC has been a great place to work.”
Rieb will officially start the new Billings Clinic position in June, but he will continue doing general surgery once per week at the Powell hospital.
“In his 11-plus years of serving our patients, Dr. Rieb always had patients’ and their family’s best interest in mind,” said PVHC CEO Terry Odom. “He is an exceptional surgeon and colleague. We wish him the best in his new position with Billings Clinic. We are thankful that he will continue to provide surgery coverage for us one day a week as we work to recruit a new surgeon.”
The position Rieb accepted in Billings is as a regional general surgeon. It’s a new position within the general surgery division of Billings Clinic. The provider was looking to expand support for general surgery in smaller communities where their regional affiliates are located — such as Powell Valley Healthcare — but the organization didn’t have the manpower to meet those needs. So, while Rieb and his family will live in Billings, his work will be primarily outside the city.
“They saw a need for a position like this, as they’ve been growing regionally with regional affiliates,” he said; PVHC joined as an affiliate in early 2020.
Besides doing procedures in the smaller communities where patients reside, when the patients or their needs aren’t well suited to local care, Rieb can facilitate that care in Billings and then provide follow-up care with the patient back in their hometown. The idea is to provide care as close to the patients’ home as possible.
“The more care they can receive closer to home, the better off they are,” Rieb explained. “It’s really about providing bridge care between rural communities and Billings.”
The Chugwater, Wyoming, native said from the time he entered medical school, he’s had an eye toward rural healthcare.
“I’m a small-town guy. My objective was always to come back to Wyoming and practice in a smaller community,” Rieb said, and that made this move a “natural partnership.”
Also attractive is that, as a new position with a regional role, he’ll be able to build and shape it, with the resources of a tertiary care facility.
“One of their [Billings Clinic’s] objectives is to be a national leader in delivering healthcare to rural communities,” Rieb said.
Over the 11 years he’s practiced in Powell, he said he’s seen a lot of situations where this approach to rural healthcare would have benefited the patient. In the new position, he’ll be able to facilitate that approach more often.
Powell Valley Healthcare will be recruiting a replacement for Rieb, which could take six months to a year or longer.
“That’s going to take time. You don’t just pull general surgeons off the shelf, usually,” Rieb said.
He and Billings Clinic will be helping with the search, and Rieb said he’ll help onboard the new surgeon once he or she is found.
In addition to his work as a surgeon, Rieb served on the PVHC Board of Trustees. Board member R.J. Kost said the board will miss his contributions, but the members understand.
“When a person gets a great opportunity, I don’t think anyone should hold anybody back. We will move on, and we will be fine. But he will be missed,” Kost said.
Rieb’s wife, Lisa, is a Powell native, and Dr. Rieb said they still have family here. So, the ties will remain as he moves into this new opportunity.
“I bear the marks of people in this community who have impacted my life and my career in a positive direction,” Rieb said. “It’s been a great decade-plus of my life, and I’m deeply grateful to the people at PVHC and the community.”