Dr. Esgar Guarin, family practice physician at Newton Clinic, has been named the 2017 Iowa Family Physician of the Year by the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians. The presentation was made at the IAFP Annual Meeting Installation and Awards Banquet.
The Iowa Family Physician of the Year award is presented to one outstanding physician in the state who best exemplifies the tradition of the family doctor and who epitomizes the finest standards of family health care. Guarin provides obstetric services at Skiff Medical Center, along with pediatric and reproductive care in Newton.
One of Guarin’s patients had this to say when nominating him: “He is an awesome doctor, always right on top of things. I feel great joy and security knowing he is my doctor, even in an emergency situation.”
Another patient agreed, writing, “Dr. Guarin is an amazing doctor. He is outgoing and makes a huge effort to know and understand his patients very well. I have learned so much from listening to Dr. Guarin.”
Two other patients submitted nominations of Dr. Guarin, including statements such as “Our experience with him couldn’t have been better” and “He always goes out of his way to make kids feel comfortable with him — he truly treats them down at their level and communicates so well with them and with me.”
Patients weren’t the only ones who submitted letters of recommendation on Guarin’s behalf. A representative of the Pregnancy Center of Central Iowa cited his volunteer efforts at their organization, which includes offering translation services for Spanish-speaking patients and presenting at monthly lunch-and-learns, where he not only gives educational talks but also finances the meal for all clients and family members in attendance.
In addition, the sentiments of praise are echoed by Guarin’s professional cohorts.
“Dr. Guarin’s enthusiasm and medical knowledge are great assets to the clinic and the community,” said colleague Dr. Zack Alexander. “On several occasions, I’ve had patients share with me how much they appreciate him.”
“From the day we signed Dr. Guarin, we knew we had a very special doctor,” said Mark Thayer, clinic administrator. “I have seen patients from Dr. Guarin’s previous practice travel more than eight hours round trip to see him in Newton. He takes a special interest in educating his patients on their conditions, and he utilizes today’s technologies with his patients in a manner that many find appealing. We are proud and honored to have such a talented and dedicated physician serving the Newton Clinic, and we congratulate him on this distinguished award.”
As the Iowa Family Physician of the Year, Guarin will become Iowa’s nominee to the American Academy of Family Physicians for the 2018 National Family Physician of the Year.
“It’s an exciting honor to get this,” Guarin said, “particularly knowing that it is something supported by both peers and patients.”
He said in part, the award was made possible thanks to the supportive environment he’s found in Newton.
“I feel welcome here,” he said. “I feel like this is the place where I’ve been able to practice the way I want to practice. The clinic has allowed me to model my practice the way I want, which includes a strong emphasis on reproductive health, maternal/child health and health education. Increasing health literacy in patients and making sure they understand what they’re dealing with and how the health system works for them, is so important. It’s one of my main goals.”
Guarin attended medical school in his native country of Colombia, followed by residency in Baltimore, Md., and a two-year OB fellowship in Rhode Island. When not working, Guarin spends the majority of time with his wife, Lilian, and their two young daughters, Gabriela and Manuela. They have lived in Newton for more than two years, and it’s a move he felt was spirit-led.
“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.”