Published On: Thu, Nov 14th, 2013

From Africa to Osmond: Dr. Harthoorn is here

OSMOND — Life in his medical practice has come full circle for Dr. Corey Harthoorn – from a clinic in Norfolk to Malawi, Africa, and now back to living in Norfolk and starting work at Osmond Family Practice, Osmond. His first day on the job in Osmond was Nov. 11.

His practice succeeds that of Dr. David F. Johnson Jr., who retired earlier this year after 45 years of service to the community.

A native of Orange City, Iowa, Dr. Harthoorn (pronounced Har-torn) was born and raised in that community of 5,000 people and attended Northwestern College there. It was there that he met his wife, Sharon, a native of McCook, whose parents have now moved to Aurora. Dr. Harthoorn’s parents now live in Baton Rouge, La. Medical school took him to the University of Iowa where he completed the program in 1997. His residency and family practice training took place in Mason City, Iowa, graduating in 2000.

He joined Norfolk Family Medicine following graduation and completed a four-year commitment there. His partners were Dr. Timothy Davy and Dr. Edward Wicker.

Already in high school he felt a calling to do mission work and so, in 2004, the family traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi, (population one million) in southeastern Africa, working with Serving in Missions, an interdenominational group. His first year was spent in language study. He was then associated with a clinic, which focused on HIV and AIDS treatment. Tuberculosis and malaria cases were other illnesses not seen in America. He also handled the routine of family practice work like high blood pressure and diabetes. The country of Malawi has a population of 14 million.

At the conclusion of the four years, the family returned to Norfolk for a one-year furlough. Dr. Harthoorn went on speaking trips to connect with supporters and also completed board recertification for family medicine. While home, he did some work at the Urgent Care Center, Norfolk, and with Dr. Jim Bertus.

Returning to Malawi, he found the clinic was bigger and his role changed … there is constant change, he noted.

The country is very peaceful, but one of the poorest countries in the world. They have few resources and their number one export is tobacco. There are no social systems as are known in America. The populace is composed almost completely of blacks with the only whites being missionaries, relief workers or embassy personnel. The months of October and November in Malawi have temperatures in the 90s for lows and 100 and higher during the day, and it is humid. The rainy season is December-March, and it rains almost every day. It is still warm; however, there is some relief from the heat. Winter comes in July and August where low temperatures are in the 50s and highs in the 70s.

With furlough time coming up again this year, the family initially planned to return to Africa once that time was completed. However, in April of this year, Dr. Harthoorn said he felt God’s calling to go back home (Norfolk). By this time, there was another American doctor in Malawi. Dr. Harthoorn’s position was filled by a native of Malawi, who came in March. There are now two Malawian doctors and two U.S. doctors and a couple who do outreach work. He says he sees it as a positive step in nationalizing the medical staff.

He began sending e-mails to explore options for work in the States and contacted Osmond General Hospital.

The family presently lives in Norfolk. Their children are Kaitlin, 18, and Breanna, 15, both students at Norfolk High School; Caleb 12, a Norfolk Junior High School student, and Annika, 10, a fifth grader at Norfolk Public School.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Harthoorn join Osmond Family Practice. I have been impressed with him from the first moment I met him,” said Osmond General Hospital CEO Celine Mlady.

Dr. Harthoorn says he is excited to be working in a small town among its people. He looks forward to taking care of a wide variety of patients and getting to know the whole family. He looks forward to not only providing good medicine, but to treating the whole person.

“I plan to do everything I can to strengthen health care here,” Dr. Harthoorn said.

At present his practice is in the outreach clinic area of Osmond General Hospital. He is generally here Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays. His office can be contacted at (402) 748-6141.