After 57 years in practice, Dr. John Growney has announced his retirement as a healthcare provider for the Amberwell Atchison community, effective March 16, 2023. Dr. Growney, originally from St. Joseph, MO, came to Atchison in 1966, fresh off a tour from Vietnam. He brought with him his wife, Gertrude, and six children (more would follow), as well as many important "firsts" to the medical scene in town.
His first practice was on the corner of Eighth and Santa Fe, which he shared with Dr. Spencer Fast. Growney's specialization was family medicine, and he was the first board-certified physician in Atchison. He brought with him new techniques such as laparoscopic surgeries, the use of endotracheal intubation for anesthesia to replace the use of ether, and epidurals to ease the pains of child birthing.
For him, those developments were critical to what motivated him throughout his long career: patient care. "My primary goal has always been quality patient care. To me, that is the main purpose of good medicine. All the new techniques meant quicker recovery times and decreased hospital stays for my patients. I value that. That, and same day service. I have always valued accessibility. For the first thirty years of my practice, we didn't make appointments. We saw everyone who walked in the door who needed care. And I wanted that care to be exemplary," says Growney.
As his practice grew, he served in many capacities. He delivered over 1,000 babies for the Atchison community. "Home was only 90 seconds from the emergency room and delivery room. It was very convenient," says Growney. When the era of specialized physicians came to the forefront and as general practitioners did fewer and fewer surgeries, he studied anesthesia and did a thousand of them as well. As his patients aged, he sought another certification to more deeply learn the best practices for that age group, getting his board certification in Geriatrics.
Along the way, he also served as a county coroner; he served on the board of the local housing authority; he was on the public health board. He was Grand Marshal of the annual St Patrick's Day parade. He was a diplomat for the American Board of Family Medicine. He was chief of staff at Amberwell Atchison. He took his skills on medical mission trips to serve the underserved in Guatemala, the Cayman Islands, Nicaragua, and Haiti. His children and grandchildren and other Atchison physicians joined him on these excursions. He took up scuba diving and studied some wilderness medicine. And all along, he continued his family practice board exams, one of only a handful of physicians in the United States to take them and pass them six times.
Dr. Growney's long practice is notable for two things: a love for learning, and a love for passing on that learning. His office served as a training ground/think tank not only for many medical interns over the years, but also for his sons who followed him into medical practice—Dan Growney, MD; Mike Growney, MD; and Jim Growney, PA-C.
Dr. Growney is retiring to visit his grandchildren and play in his yard-sometimes both at the same time. "My most important legacy is certainly my children, my family. We are extremely tight knit. We all deeply enjoy each other's fine company. But we are increasingly far flung. I have kids on both coasts and in a lot of territory in between. We have three new great grandbabies due in July of this year. None of them are in the same state, none of them are arriving in Kansas. I want to tend to my own family as I have tended other families over the last nearly 60 years. It is time to stop and smell the new baby skin!"