Dr. Richard A. Matarese's last on-call rotation for Samaritan Medical Center will be Jan. 31, one day before he begins his new job as director of the Valor Healthcare VA clinic.
After nearly three decades of caring for patients with kidney problems, nephrologist Dr. Matarese said he was looking for a break from those weekend and night rotations at Samaritan Medical Center. Not ready to retire, he said the VA clinic director post came at the right time.
"I wanted to have nights and weekends back, and said, 'OK, it's time to get a little bit of a life,'" he said. "I like to do new things, so here's a start to do something else."
With his weekends soon free, Dr. Matarese said, he'll look forward to quick trips to see his grown children and young grandchildren.
He will leave his nephrology partner, Dr. Khalid P. Sindhu, behind but won't be too far away. Dr. Matarese will settle into his new job when the VA outpatient clinic opens Feb. 1 in the CANI Building, 19472 Route 11, adjacent to Renal Care in the Washington Summit Medical and Professional Development complex.
Calls to Jim Wheeler, Valor Healthcare's vice president and director of outreach, were not returned as of Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Matarese was on faculty at Brown University, Providence, R.I., before he moved to the north country 26 years ago with his family to help start the kidney dialysis program at Mercy Hospital, 218 Stone St. He and Dr. Sindhu leased space at Mercy before opening Renal Care nearly three years ago.
Dr. Matarese will continue to see patients when he directs the new VA clinic, but he'll also oversee other clinic workers and the quality of care they're providing to the veterans who use the clinic.
Another reason he said he thought the VA job would be perfect for him is he could serve his country in a way he couldn't when he was in school. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, Neb., in 1971.
"When I was in training, Vietnam was pretty hot," the Henderson Harbor resident said. "I received a letter saying I'd be deferred a year if I want to commit three years of service. I said put my name back in the lottery, and my name never got called. I thought I owed a little bit back to my country."
Although Dr. Matarese said he'll be glad to see a new list of patients, he'll miss his current practice's staff and patients. Support from Samaritan and Mercy hospitals, as well as Jefferson and Lewis counties' public health agencies, his medical colleagues and dialysis staff have all made his time as a practicing nephrologist pleasant, he said.
Hundreds of kidney patients will still have Dr. Sindhu to rely on for end-stage renal disease care, kidney transplant checkups and other kidney-related appointments. Dr. Matarese said Dr. Sindhu is actively looking for another nephrologist to join the practice.