Physician to say goodbye to Baldwin City as grand marshal of Festival of Lights Parade

Saturday's Festival of Lights Parade will give Dr. Dara Lowe an opportunity to say goodbye to the community before leaving to join her husband, Chris, in their family's new home in Colorado. Lowe has been selected grand marshal of the parade and will ride the route with her three sons, Cameron, Jake and Bryce. Enlarge photo

December 1, 2015

At the conclusion of an appointment Monday, Dr. Dara Lowe shared a goodbye embrace with a patient in the lobby of her downtown Baldwin City clinic.

It’s a scene likely to be repeated often in the coming weeks as Lowe prepares to leave the practice she has built during the past four years and join her husband, former Baldwin City Administrator Chris Lowe, in Monument, Colo., where he took a position as town manager. The goodbye Monday also was a prelude to a much bigger farewell to the community. Lowe will be honored Saturday as grand marshal of this year’s Festival of Lights Parade.

“It’s an opportunity to say goodbye,” she said Monday. “I’m flattered but slightly embarrassed because the grand marshal is usually someone who has been in the community for 20 to 30 years.”

Festival of Lights organizer and Baldwin City Recreation Commission recreation specialist Tammy Michael said Lowe was chosen for her contributions to the community the past four years, both professionally and in volunteer capacities.

“She’s a wonderful doctor and a great member of the community,” she said.

The impending move with her three sons Cameron, Jake and Bryce for Colorado is “bittersweet” because of the family, friends, clinic staff and patients she will leave behind, Lowe said. Her last day at the clinic will be Dec. 22.

Lowe arrived in Baldwin City four years ago with her husband, having practiced family medicine for 14 years, first as a physician with the Army and then as a civilian at a clinic at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. She accepted an offer to be the physician at the Baldwin City clinic associated with Ransom Memorial Hospital in Ottawa. It was a “unique opportunity” that gave her the security of a salary but some of the obligations and independence of a private practice.

“It’s hard building up a practice in family medicine,” she said. “Family practitioners coming out of medical school don’t open clinics any more because it’s so expensive. I had the opportunity to be a solo practitioner. I learned a lot, particularly on the business side.”

Ransom did expect one thing of Lowe, and she delivered.

“They wanted me to grow the practice,” she said. “When I first came here, we averaged four visits a day. You can’t make much money on four visits. Now, we routinely see 15 or 16 patients a day. There’s still room for growth. The goal is 20 to 22 visits a day. If it continues to expand, they may add a second provider.”

Lowe also is the staff physician for Baldwin Rehabilitation and Healthcare and ComfortCare Homes of Baldwin City.

For her part, Lowe embraced the role of small-town physician.

“I’m friends with a lot of my patients, which makes leaving more difficult,” she said. “I don’t mind it at all when I run into someone at the grocery store and they ask a question. I get texts from patients asking to come to the office to sew up lacerations or come by their home to look in on someone.

“One time, I had someone give me a bottle of wine for removing a skin tag. I thought that was a perfect small-town payment.”

Lowe said she hoped those moments continued in Colorado, although she noted Monument was bigger than Baldwin City. She has secured a position with a Colorado Springs practice and will be its sole physician in its Monument clinic.

“It’s five minutes from my front door, so I won’t have to battle traffic,” she said. “Our house (in Baldwin City) is on contract. Everything seems to be falling into place.”

She and her family enjoy skiing, and she hopes to get to the slopes more often with the move. Lowe said she was also an avid cyclist and also was looking forward to taking advantage of the community’s many hiking trails.

“I want to get some snowshoes and get on those hiking trails when I get out there,” she said.

Helping make the move easier is news that Ransom already has found her replacement. Lowe said Dr. Christine Goodwin of Larned has contracted to start at the clinic at the first for the year and will also assume Lowe’s positions at Baldwin Rehabilitation and Healthcare and ComfortCare.

“She’s a wonderful physician,” Lowe said. “She will live in Baldwin City with her family. She has four children from a 3 year old to the fifth grade.”

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