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Are you in need of a checkup, consultation, surgery, or the Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) procedure? The staff at Heartland Physicians and Surgeons in Kirksville, Missouri is dedicated to their community’s health, even during a global pandemic.

Dr. Roy Danks and Dr. Philip McIntire opened the doors of Heartland Physicians and Surgeons n May 2016, in Kirksville. Heartland is a local and privately owned medical-surgical partnership, specializing in internal and family medicine and general surgery.

In 2017, Dr. Danks and Dr. McIntire earned a certification to perform the TIF procedure. TIF is a minimally invasive endoscopic treatment for GERD (acid reflux) and is often combined with a surgical hiatal hernia repair. The procedure is less invasive than the traditional Nissen Wrap, requires no skin incisions, and prevents the wrap from becoming too tight or too loose. Currently, Heartland Physicians and Surgeons is the only practice in Missouri to offer the TIF procedure.

medical symbolBack in 2017 Carolyn Chrisman, the Center Director for the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in the Northeast Region, reached out to Debbie Steele, Heartland’s Office Manager, to assist the start-up clinic with marketing and community outreach. Customer acquisition and marketing were, and still are, a critical component for the private practice to introduce the staff and the services they provide for the area. As the clinic has grown with additional services, Chrisman and Steele have partnered, again and again, working together on Facebook live interviews and job postings to connect with the community.

On March 23, 2020, the federal and state stay-at-home orders halted all elective surgeries and enacted a strict guideline for medical practices. As concerns over COVID-19 grew, Heartland Physicians and Surgeons suffered an 85% revenue loss, on top of distressing financial decisions, job security, and patient and employee safety.

Fortunately for Steele, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, offered several relief programs like the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP), but selecting the best fit for Heartland proved to be a difficult task.

“It was very overwhelming. You’re trying to do what is best for everybody,” Steele said. Steele knew she could trust Chrisman and the SBDC to prepare them for the coming weeks ahead.

Chrisman and the SBDC were the “go-to” for government aid research and starting point for connections to the relief programs. Heartland used their accountant to process the financial aspects, but through Chrisman and the SBDC, Heartland was introduced to two programs: Missouri Shared Work Program and Payroll Protection Plan (PPP). “I wouldn’t have known about the Missouri Shared Work Program or had a real understanding without Carolyn really bringing it to my attention in the beginning. It ended up being the way to go for us” said Steele.

Thanks to the Missouri SBDC and Carolyn Chrisman, applying for the Missouri Shared Work Program and the PPP loan was a success. “Debbie was pro-active in her desire to use the programs as so many elective medical procedures were put on hold.  It is wonderful to see that their business has come back stronger,” stated Chrisman. As a result, furloughing was no longer a worry for their employees and the community could still attend their appointments safely.

Despite the turmoil that Heartland Physicians and Surgeons faced early in 2020, they are still expanding. In July, a full-time family doctor and two more full-time employees were hired, expanding the care for the community from general surgery and internal medicine to family medicine. “Our vision here at Heartland Physicians and Surgeons is to continue to grow and serve our community to the best of our ability,” Steele stated.

Heartland is determined to bring the best quality care to their community even during a global pandemic. They are dedicated to their staff and patient’s wellbeing. They will continue to expand care and services to provide the best and most modern operations and treatments for their patients.



Writer: Dara Restivo