In rural regions, health care can be a challenge.

With the opening of the Fountain Point medical campus, however, Norfolk and Northeast Nebraska residents have more choices than ever before.

The 73,500-square-foot medical facility opened in September and continues to grow. The Fountain Point medical community offers myriad health care services for all ages, as well as a pain management program that helps patients minimize discomfort and shorten recovery times. A surgery center also will soon be moving to the campus.

The campus features state-of-the-art medical equipment that resulted from common visions and common passions, said Dr. Jim Bertus, an anesthesiologist who grew up in Avon, S.D., and came to Norfolk in the early 1990s.

“I came here and was going to work really hard for a year and give it a try,” he said. “It’s now been 26 years and counting.”

So how did a group of doctors convert a 55-acre site from a farm field into a medical campus southwest of the roundabout at 37th Street?

Bertus said it is a “shared vision” that the doctors have. More than 40 doctors currently work at least part of their time from Fountain Point.

“So much of medicine has been about sick care, and that’s important,” Bertus said. “But really medicine is moving toward health care. And that’s how you do care for your health. That’s different than how you do care for your sickness.”

The services to care for the sick will continue to be necessary, but maybe not to the magnitude that they are necessary now, he said.

Along with preventive care, it means helping people with ailments. With diabetes, for example, there could be generations of obesity. Some factors, people may not have control over, but on others they may.

Bertus said it is important to look at the “layers and pieces” and help patients move from a sick care approach to a healthy care approach.

Bertus and other doctors often use the term that they want to be “life giving.”

Dr. Chris Price, who also is an anesthesiologist and operates the Nebraska Pain Management clinic with Bertus, said the medical campus gives physicians the autonomy of how they want to run their practice.

“It also allows us to use our connections and collaboration with physicians throughout the state who have the same views that we do,” Price said. “These independent physicians have similar views and want to provide a good service to the community. That’s a huge attraction for all of us.”

The facilities are considered state-of-the-art, something that all the physicians have appreciated.

“It’s just been a huge blessing for all of us and the whole community. It gives patients high-quality, affordable care right here in Norfolk,” he said.

In addition to primary care, other services at Fountain Point are gastroenterology, hematology, oncology, foot and ankle, orthopedics, surgery, pain management, cardiology, urology and physical therapy.

Along with about 40 physicians, there are at least 15 clinics. Chief Industries of Grand Island served as the general contractor for the building.

Mary Kay Uhing, chief operating officer for Fountain Point, said there could be a 45,000-square-foot expansion onto the campus next year at this time, including a child development center and a state-of-the-art imaging facility with MRI, CT, 3-D mammogram and ultrasound machines.

Another exciting aspect of the project is what’s known as the addition of an Intermediate Care Facility, which could include up to 25 units.

Intermediate Care Facilities are used in many parts of the country and represent a new health care model, specializing in lower-cost rehabilitation and care immediately after an outpatient surgery. It helps with patients’ recovery before returning home.

The main access to Fountain Point is on 37th Street off the southern point of the roundabout. However, by Nov. 1, another access point should be available at 40th Street, which will be a convenience for those patients arriving from the west.

In other news

The Norfolk Senior Citizens Center serves congregate meals Mondays through Fridays at noon. Reservations for the meals are needed. These should be made the day of the desired meal or prior to 9:30 a.m. by calling the senior center, 402-371-8299 or 402-371-3930.

You may be a flexitarian and you don’t even know it. It’s a new term that’s being thrown around the food diet groups. You’re likely to see books and many websites coming soon based on flexitarianism.