MISSOULA — We’ve seen the term "frontline workers" written in the headlines more times than we can count over the last 20 months.
Yet more often than not, we don't know the real people behind the title.
In some cases, they’re traveling nurses away from home or they’re first-time doctors settling into a community. On occasion, they’re people you’ve known your whole life.
“I’m one of the general surgeons at the hospital here, and this is 26 years at this hospital,” said Community Medical Center surgeon Dr. Timothy Richards.
Next month -- after 2½ decades with Community Medical Center -- Dr. Richards will hang up the white coat one last time, and hand over the keys to someone new.
“I took over his office. So, I actually -- because he's going to be retiring at the end of the year -- I got to move into his office. He still says it’s his office, but it's mine now,” joked Dr. Tarin Worrest.
Don’t worry, it’s a friendly office feud. After all, these doctors go way back.
“The newest addition to our surgical platform here is Dr. Tarin Worrest, who is a minimally invasive, fellowship-trained general surgeon -- and also my daughter,” Dr. Richards said.
After studying in Washington state, Washington DC, and Oregon, Dr. Worrest couldn’t stay away from home or her family any longer.
“I think that was really valuable for me to get out and see different parts of the country, but it also made me really value Missoula,” Dr. Worrest explained.
Missoula, after all, is the village that raised her, and whether they know it or not, some of this town’s teachers had a hand in molding Tarin into Dr. Tarin Worrest.
“Will Pereira was my homeroom teacher, Miss Prather was my AP biology teacher, and Linda Smith was my chemistry teacher,” Dr. Worrest recalled.
Reconnecting with family and old mentors is a perk of coming home, but that’s not the only reason Dr. Worrest is back.
“One of the reasons I wanted to become a minimally invasive surgeon was because there aren't very many of us, especially in western Montana. There's only a couple in the whole state. And so, when I was looking at fellowships, I'm like, ‘okay, what would they need in Missoula’?” - Dr. Tarin Worrest
“I'm really glad that she came back here because I think it'll make our hospital flourish, but again, she's my daughter and I'm proud of whatever she decides to do,” Dr. Richards concluded.