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GIBSON CITY — Dr. Neil Nelson of Gibson City, an internal medicine/pediatric physician, was named the 2012 Country Doctor of the Year.
Presented by Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare company, the award recognizes the spirit, skill and dedication of America’s rural medical practitioners. Staff Care has presented the national award since 1992 to exemplary physicians practicing in communities of 30,000 or less. Nelson is the first physician from Illinois to receive the award.
“Dr. Nelson is a true home town hero,” said Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care. “He is both an integral part of health care in the community he grew up in, as well as one of its most caring private citizens.”
Trained in internal medicine/pediatrics, Nelson sees patients of all ages in his practice, regardless of ability to pay. As a testimony to his dedication, Nelson began his career in healthcare as a pharmacist so he would be familiar with the drugs that rural patients need.
Raised on his family’s 320-acre farm in Gibson City and a farmer from an early age, Nelson knew he wanted to be a physician from the time he worked at the switchboard of Gibson Area Hospital, where he was born and where he now admits patients.
Known for his precise diagnostic skills, Nelson’s practice includes 5,000 active patients in a town of only 3,500. He has drawn patients from 50 different zip codes and from as far away as 1,000 miles.
Nelson is on call for his patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has not taken a vacation in more than 12 years. He continues to make house calls and in his “spare time” serves as an auxiliary deputy and as a local liaison physician for the Shriner’s Hospital in Chicago. Until recently, Nelson was still active as a farmer.