Tribune Print Share Text

Voted most popular doc

Medical Director Austin Welsh delivers topnotch care at Tallgrass Creek

Created date

July 26th, 2010

[caption id="attachment_13514" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Austin Welsh, M.D., checks out Tallgrass Creek resident Bo Bohannan. Welsh has been the community s medical director since it opened in October 2007."][/caption] There is no typical day for Austin Welsh, M.D. I see an exciting mix of people from all over the world with interesting lives and careers, says Welsh, the medical director at Tallgrass Creek. As an Erickson colleague in Dallas says, practicing at an Erickson community is kind of like Disneyland for doctors. But make no mistake: Welsh is no square himself.

Moving around

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Welsh graduated from Yale University in 1983. Post graduation, he spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, where he met his future wife, Mary. The couple married after moving back to her home state of Ohio, and it was then that Welsh began thinking about entering the medical profession. We planned to teach in China for a while, he recalls, but the idea of becoming a doctor just wouldn t go away. Hawaii, by way of Missouri and Arkansas After graduating in 1993 from Wright State University s School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio, Welsh completed his residency at St. John s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo. He had a family practice for seven years in the hills of northern Arkansas and became more interested in practicing all-geriatric medicine. (There are currently only about 70 doctors who graduate annually with this specialty.) The Welshes, who had six children by this time, picked up and moved to Honolulu so he could complete a oneyear fellowship in geriatrics at the University of Hawaii. We lived in an historic house that overlooked Honolulu Harbor, and Mary and the two teenage children learned to surf, says Welsh. The kids went to the beach every day while I learned how other cultures care for their elders. We all came home happy in the evening. Once Welsh became a boardcertified geriatrician, the family moved to Arkansas, where he assumed the positions he had before coming to Tallgrass Creek. He was the medical director at Springdale Health and Rehabilitation Center and the geriatrician at the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education, both in Springdale, Ark. In addition, he was a clinical professor at the University of Arkansas medical school.

Welcome to Tallgrass Creek

In February 2007, Welsh heard about Erickson the management company for a network of 19 premier retirement communities nationwide and inquired about available positions as a physician. He found there was a new community in the Kansas City area, and after a lengthy interview process, was selected as Tallgrass Creek s first medical director. The Welshes now have seven children, ranging in age from 5 to 21 years, and live in Overland Park, Kans. He sings tenor for the St. Philippine Duchesne Choir in Kansas City, Kans., and practices both Gregorian chant and polyphony, a form of music that combines several individual but harmonizing melodies. He and his wife also enjoy growing orchids (which grew wild in their yard in Hawaii), including three that are lush with blooms in Welsh s office. Periodically, he gives presentations on topics of interest to residents, such as managing cholesterol or diabetes, interspersing the information with humor. Dr. Welsh is very good on his feet, says resident Sherm Jones. And he s just an excellent doctor. I have seen doctors at the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Welsh is simply the best. Other patients feel the same way resident surveys have shown Welsh to be among the most popular docs among the 19 Erickson communities. Unlike other practices that may interact with patients a few times a year, I continue to see and know my patients, says Welsh. My practice treats the whole person their concerns, how they move, their choices, just their total well-being. It s an ongoing process and one I love. An added benefit Welsh receives from his patients? He says: I really enjoy hearing their stories.