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Two doctors retire from HaysMed





Dr. Randy Cook believed he was called to be a doctor. As a 12-year-old growing up in St. Francis, he drew every bone in the human body. Now, after spending the last 29 years in internal medicine at Hays Medical Center, he is retiring.

"I decided many years ago I wanted to be a doctor," Cook said. "I did, and I made it. You have to really love your work because no doctor will work that many hours if they don't love it."

Although Cook quit before, he never has left the hospital.

"There has been a number of times my wife has threatened to pull me out of Hays," he said. "She's always wanted to live in Wichita, and once she actually bought a house. I told her, 'I'm not leaving. We had to buy our way out of the contract.'"

His decision officially to leave HaysMed came shortly after the birth of his grandchild in Kansas City, Mo., and as a type 1 diabetic, he believed it was time to "smell the roses."

"We've had some doctors pass away," Cook said. "That had a huge impact on me. We work pretty hard, and it's extremely difficult."

After 29 years, whether it be a co-worker or patient, Cook said experiencing death is never easy.

"It bothers me the most to be at a bedside with a family and the patient passes," he said. "You never get over that. You remember that forever."

Despite the losses, delivering his son always will stick in his mind.

"That's amazing to see life start," Cook said. "I enjoyed that immensely, but most doctors don't ever count their victories in medicine. They count their defeats. Doctors don't remember the good outcomes. That's a burden we all bear. You'll bear it your whole life and never forget, but you go on."

Cook prides himself on his ability to listen and educate, and hopes to help others help themselves.

"The most important thing is medicine is to make a difference," he said. "You have to make a difference in people's lives. You have to learn how to help them help themselves because you can't be there all the time. We learn how to help people become masters of their own disease."

He plans on moving to Manhattan.

"I don't think I'm going to practice," he said. "I may do some locum tenens (placeholder physician) work if I get bored. If I don't get bored, then I won't."

In addition to Cook, Dr. Dallas Richards also retired from HaysMed.

Richards could not be reached for comment.

"They are going to be hard to replace," said Shae Veach, vice president of regional operations and marketing. "Both have been such a contributing factor to the success at HaysMed. We appreciate everything they have given to us, and they'll be sorely missed."

Richards' last day was May 16, and Cook is saying goodbye Thursday.

"Hays has been a wonderful place to practice," Cook said. "That's why I never left. Patients become your friends. I had wonderful patients. They're good people who work hard and take responsibility for their health."