Special to the Reporter

When he was just a boy, Albert J. “Jay” Turk would head to his uncle’s house in the summer. There in that small town, he saw what it meant to be a physician whom the townsfolk counted on for most of their care. He was smitten by the idea that he could make a difference, just like his uncle.

The boy became a man and then a board-certified family practice doctor with a long string of training in between. For 15 years, he has followed his dream in Bowie, practicing with United Clinics of North Texas. He was very pleased to be able to admit his primary care patients to Bowie Memorial Hospital and make his own rounds, assuring continuity of their care.

“My patients liked that, too,” Dr. Turk said, “but it didn’t stop a calamity at the county level.”

The Bowie hospital was one of the last non-tax supported hospitals in Texas when it tried to get a taxing district passed. The referendum resoundingly failed.

“When I saw how little support there was for the hospital, I started looking for a more favorable environment for practicing healthcare,” Dr. Turk said.

Now Bowie’s loss is Glen Rose’s gain. Dr. Turk is Glen Rose Medical Center's new family practice physician.

“I’d been on a mission trip to India in 2009 with a friend who knew a pastor in Granbury,” Turk said, recounting how the move came about. “When I described the kind of environment I wanted with my new physician colleagues, he asked if I’d considered Glen Rose, saying that healthcare was enjoying a warm camaraderie there I might like. The pastor said Glen Rose’s hospital and its physicians had an excellent reputation. So, I made a call.”

Dr. Turk and his wife, Shelley, made five trips to Glen Rose in rapid succession, bringing 16-year-old son Jacob and 15-year-old daughter Jaycee on several occasions.

“We were very impressed with Glen Rose Medical Center and I was pleased that many primary care doctors were making their own roundsl,” Dr. Turk said. “I really don’t like leaving my patients to a hospitalist.”

Shelley, an emergency room nurse, Jacob and Jaycee all became excited about the move.

“Now that our kids are nearly grown, it’s Shelley’s turn to pursue her next dream,” Dr. Turk said.

She has enrolled with University of Texas at Arlington studying to earn a Master of Science in nursing with nurse practitioner preparation.

Ray Reynolds, the medical center's chief executive officer, said he’s pleased to welcome yet another board-certified family practice physician who believes in GRMC’s continuity of care philosophy and loves the small town life.

“The fact that Dr. Turk was in Bowie for 15 years speaks to the longevity we hope to have with him in Glen Rose,” Reynolds said.

In addition to the day-in, day-out preventive medicine and “sick call” of primary care interactions, Dr. Turk has extensive experience working with diabetics and heart disease patients, while he also enjoys seeing children in his practice.

In fulfillment of the requirements of certification with the American Board of Family Medicine, Dr. Turk completed a structured experience in the care of neonates, infants, children and adolescents, both for well and ill children, some hospitalized. Another interest is sleep medicine. He will be taking his board exams in November for certification with the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

When away from his medical practice, Dr. Turk enjoys fishing, hunting, flying (yes, planes), boating and snow skiing. Yet he is quick to express that 11 days spent on a mission trip to India in 2009 were transformative, not simply a pastime.

Dr. Turk and Shelley carried the gospel message along with their medical skills. He has many stories from that trip.

“None of us had been sick, but on one of the last nights we were there, I became ill,” Dr. Turk said. “We had one more village yet unseen. From the time we left to get to the village until we returned, all my symptoms disappeared.

“In that last village, a cinderblock church had already been erected,” he added. “The plaque on the wall thanked the pivotal donor from Bowie, my son’s first grade teacher. Yes, that mission trip changed us.” The entire family hopes to return to India during January 2012.

Dr. Turk’s office is at Glen Rose Medical Center, 409 Glenwood Street, where he will see patients each weekday. New appointments are being taken at 254-897-2202.