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Michael Bushfield, Eureka, MT, is the Winner!

Northside Medical Clinic is the answer for Clearwater History Trivia #649, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Helen Chenoweth

Tuesday: A lifestyle

Wednesday: Natural resources

Thursday: Some had specialized skills

Friday: A sales job required to produce results

Saturday: A direction

Monday: Dr. Maurice Masar

Tuesday: Dr. Robert Bolin

Northside Medical Clinic was located at 1275 Riverside Ave. in Orofino where A to Z Counseling is now. The clinic closed in 1990 when Dr. Robert Hill left to go elsewhere because of what he felt was unfair competition by the county owning Medical Park. But I get ahead of myself in the history.

In an article from the Associated Press in the Idaho State Journal (Pocatello) July 22, 1974, it talks about Helen Chenoweth being the business manager and recruiter. She had a different approach to recruiting doctors to come to Orofino, which at the time had about 4,600 residents. Rather than relying on placing advertisements in medical journals like other small towns, she felt it took a sales job that promoted the natural resources of the area, especially with the congestion and pollution in big cities. She had held the position since 1965.

It says she was assigned in 1967 to find a doctor to join Dr. Carter Beghtl. She spent five days showing a notebook on Orofino to resident doctors in California hospitals. She came back with Dr. Robert Hill, a one-time rodeo rider raised on a farm near Klamath Falls, OR. Chenoweth felt that Orofino had the physical facilities to attract doctors. In addition to the seven-year-old clinic, the 26-bed hospital, Clearwater Valley Memorial Hospital was nearby overlooking the wooded hillsides of the Clearwater River.

A few years later when Beghtol moved on, she went east to recruit in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Omaha. She found a specialist, internist Dr. Robert Bolin. Meanwhile, Dr. Maurice Masar, a surgeon with residencies at the U.S Naval Hospital at St Albans, NY, and the Downstate Medical Center at Brooklyn had "hung his shingle" at the clinic.

Dr. Constancio Cleto, a general practitioner who did his internship and residency at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, WA, soon joined the clinic.

Chenoweth said that Bolin was persuaded that a specialist could have a good practice in Orofino. He sees an average of 50-75 patients a week. Hill, with a general practice, sees about 200.

The doctors say they like the Orofino lifestyle, and Bolin adds, "the fishing is good," the article concludes.

In a Lewiston Morning Tribune article from Jan. 10, 1993, it speaks of a suit filed by Hill citing unfair competition.

Cleto, after working at Northside, started Medical Park clinic. However, when he died in 1986, none of the other doctors wanted to take it over, so the county did and hired doctors and other practitioners to work there. Hill, represented by Robert Kinney, filed a suit against the county in 1990 saying that the county owning the clinic was in violation of state law and unfair competition with Northside. District Judge John Bengston ruled in 1993 that it was illegal for the county, represented by Dale Cox, to own Medical Park. However, by then Hill had left town and Medical Park was the only clinic in Orofino and though it was illegal, there were no plans to close. County commissioners of the time were hoping that the legislature would change the law during their next session.

Hill was not asking for damages or that Medical Park be closed, only for a declaratory judgement, which Bengston did. At the time, there were four doctors and a nurse practitioner at Medical Park: Dr. Peter W. Crecelius, Dr. Linden J. Bishop, Dr. John E. Riley, Dr. Mark A. Hyman and JoAnne L. Brandt, a nurse practitioner.

The article didn't indicate the final outcome beyond the judgement.

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Orofino, ID 83544
Orofino 476 0733
Fax: 208-476-4140