ROCKINGHAM — After spending almost two decades based in North Carolina, Mitch Hibbard, a certified physician assistant and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, ventured to Nevada for a position closer to relatives. When FirstHealth learned of his work in family medicine and the field of telemedicine, they enticed him to return. And in late December, he began accepting patients at FirstHealth Family Medicine, Rockingham.
“My family and I were based here for 17 years,” he said. “FirstHealth offered me a chance to come back to the area and to continue in work that I find very rewarding.”
FirstHealth officials were pleased to learn of Hibbard’s interest and experience. With the recent relocation of beloved physician Daniel Hall, M.D., patients in Richmond County needed the support of an additional provider with expertise and experience. Hibbard joins Jeffrey Kern, PA-C, at the Rockingham location.
Hibbard brings more than 17 years of experience in family medicine, working in North Carolina and through four overseas deployments with the U.S. Army Reserves. When it comes to one-on-one conversations with his patients, he focuses on both prevention and achieving personal goals. He says his priority is to help them live as healthy a life as possible.
“I want to help people identify and prevent health issues that could become a problem later in life,” he said. “If I can do that, I can help them to have more and more opportunities to enjoy life free of complications.”
With that goal in mind, he emphasizes diet and exercise, plus mental, physical and emotional health. And Hibbard brings an interesting mix of skills to help patients succeed. He has participated in a diverse range of clinical research trials, for example. He is a member of several professional organizations both locally and nationally, one focused on addressing issues related to overweight and obesity. Hibbard has completed specific training to help patients address these issues, and he has developed a preventive health and weight loss program.
Another valuable skill that will benefit patients in rural communities served by FirstHealth involves Hibbard’s vast experience in the field of “telemedicine.” This is a way for patients to use phone calls and websites, for example, to interact with physicians and specialists. This allows patients to connect with providers who can evaluate and monitor health issues and answer their questions in between office visits. In his most recent position in Nevada, Hibbard worked with the U.S. Air Force on a telemedicine program that benefited both active duty and retired military families. FirstHealth is looking at growing its telemedicine services going forward, because it can make health care more accessible to people in the rural areas it serves.
Hibbard’s life, work and study have taken him all across the United States, as well as overseas. He earned a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha and his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles. Today, he and his wife, Lorrie, have made Pinehurst home base for their seven children. The youngest two are in college in Utah. Others have families in Washington, Utah and Florida, and the closest is in Charlotte.