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Skiff welcomes bilingual FP/OB physician to Newton


October 22, 2015

Family practice physician Esgar Guarin, M.D., is now among the seven health-care providers who will be delivering babies at Skiff Medical Center.

Dr. Guarin most recently practiced medicine in Trenton, Mo. He received his medical degree from Universidad de Santander – UDES Medical School in Colombia and completed his family practice residency in Baltimore. In addition, he completed a two-year maternal and child health (OB) fellowship in Rhode Island, while also completing postgraduate coursework in public health with an emphasis in adolescent pregnancy.

“The Jasper County community is blessed to have the talents of Dr. Guarin,” said Mark Thayer, Newton Clinic administrator. “His expertise and training will be of great benefit to the patients of Skiff Medical Center and the local medical community. In addition to his years of training and practice, Dr. Guarin has an amazing personality that patients will absolutely adore. I have had many positive comments in the short time he has been here, from both patients and staff, regarding his warm personality. In addition to Dr. Guarin being an excellent physician, he also speaks fluent Spanish. We look forward to partnering with and outreaching to the Hispanic community.”

Dr. Guarin grew up in Bucaramanga, Colombia, a city of about 600,000 people. One of five children, he originally considered becoming a priest. “I didn’t end up following that path,” he said, “because I couldn’t have dealt with not having a family.”

He decided to pursue medicine, as that was another career that would allow him to help people. He was the first in his family to go into health care, with his father and brother being lawyers, and his sisters studying fashion design, advertising and software engineering.

Even though he knew being a physician was in his future, Dr. Guarin never dreamed it would bring him to not only a different country, but a different continent.

“When you graduate from medical school, you have to then perform a one-year mandatory social service in an underserved area,” he said. “This same service is also required of registered nurses, dentists and clinical microbiologists. I was sent to this tiny town of about 2,500 people, a six-hour drive away on dirt roads from any major city.”

That tiny town is where Dr. Guarin met Lilian Cuberos, fulfilling her year of service due to her career in microbiology. The two, now married, ended up coming to the United States when Lilian received an opportunity in cellular immunology training at The University of Maryland.

Meeting his future wife was not the only impact that year had on Dr. Guarin. It also led him into his specific specialty of medicine.

“During medical school, I was – forgive the pun – crazy about psychiatry," he said. “It was my year in that community that made me think about family practice. I was delivering babies –  wonderful cases, difficult cases – and I just loved taking care of pregnant patients. I would have gone into OB/GYN, but I wanted to be able to continue seeing pediatric patients, too. Family practice, with additional training in obstetrics, really let me connect with my patients.”

When Dr. Guarin and Lilian completed their service year in 2003, they moved to Maryland. For the next three years, Dr. Guarin studied for his boards – a necessary testing process that physicians complete between medical school and residency – and worked as a medical coder for The University of Maryland. This time period also allowed him to become immersed in English, which was his second language. “It was one thing to read in English, which I’d done for medical school,” he said. “But for what I wanted to be able to do, I needed to live the language.”

Dr. Guarin completed residency in 2009, then went on to a two-year OB fellowship in Rhode Island. Many similar fellowships last only a single year, but Dr. Guarin specifically sought out double the training, because he wanted to ensure he would offer the very best care to his patients. During that time, he set himself the goal of completing 200 C-sections ... and he made it with 10 days to spare.

While he benefited greatly from his training in Rhode Island, Dr. Guarin said he knew he didn’t want to establish his career in the east coast. “There are parts of the country where the environment is not necessarily welcoming to family practice doctors who wish to provide OB care,” he said. “If I had stayed, I wouldn’t have been able to use my training to its fullest. Conversely, in the Midwest, family doctors get to do a ton of things. They have a lot of autonomy and get a great deal of respect.”

The three years Dr. Guarin spent in Missouri were positive ones, he said, but it was coming at a cost. “I was so busy," he said, “that I wasn’t getting enough time with my family. I needed a place where my time off is truly time off. I have established priorities in my life: first the Lord, then my family, then everything else. I needed a place where those priorities would be protected.”

Dr. Guarin believed he discovered that place when he learned about Newton.

“I really loved the forward-thinking attitude of this town,” he said. “The people here had a big loss when Maytag left, but instead of giving up, they showed a strong interest in turning things around. That caught my attention, and spoke highly of a community where I would want to be with my kids. So my wife and I put in prayer to the Lord and felt this opportunity was given by Him.”

“Dr. Guarin is a person of strong faith,” said Brett Altman, Skiff CEO. “That is one of several factors that will make him a remarkable fit for this community. He’s a really great guy with a holistic view of health care, he has remarkable OB expertise, and his bilingual skills in English and Spanish will allow us to be a resource for an even greater portion of the population.”

“It is a tremendous advantage to speak two languages,” Dr. Guarin said. “When there is a communication disconnect between patients and doctors, it can lead to accidental mistreating. Not because a physician intends harm in any way, but because things literally can be lost in translation. With me, I’m not just bringing the ability to speak the language, but also a sense of belonging to and understanding the culture.”

When not working, Dr. Guarin spends the majority of time with his wife and their two daughters, 9-year-old Gabriela and 4-year-old Manuela. Last year, he coached Gabriela’s soccer team (he’s also a devoted fan of the British soccer team Manchester United), and he’s teaching her some entry level martial arts.

In addition to seeing patients at Newton Clinic, Dr. Guarin will also be taking appointments at NewCare Health Services, where he can partner with nurse midwife Lacy Lundgren for those patients who wish to receive midwife services but also need a C-section for delivery. He offers care for certain high-risk prenatal conditions, including gestational diabetes and hypertension. His primary areas of interest, in addition to OB and Spanish-speaking patients, include pediatrics, preventive medicine and education, and wound care.

Skiff Medical Center
204 N. 4th Ave E.
Newton, Iowa 50208
Phone: (641) 792-1273
Toll-free: (888) 792-1273

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Skiff Medical Center, a member of Mercy Health Network, is located in Newton, Iowa. We provide services to Jasper County residents in all major health areas, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, obstetrics, emergency medicine, hospice, home care, laboratory, respiratory, audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The Skiff Specialty Clinic hosts more than 20 physicians specializing in cardiology, dermatology, ENT, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, pulmonology and urology.
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