BY RENEE HENDRIX –
Many years ago John Mesko, while serving as a missionary doctor, traveled to Romania on a mission trip where he was able to reach out to people that were impoverished and without hope. While he learned much from the international trip, one particular lesson helped to mold the remainder of his career: you don’t have to fly around the world to reach people; you can do that where you are. Mesko stated, “It helped me to realize my purpose as a physician, it’s not just about giving people the best health care that I can, but to be able to witness to them about the things the Lord wants them to hear.”
John Mesko, MD has been practicing for 30 years in this area. “This practice here has been wonderful in the fact that we are friends with our patients,” Mesko said. He and his wife, Sarah, have raised three children here, Rich, Rachel and Zack Mesko. They also have been blessed with two adorable granddaughters, Katie and Eliza Mesko. He credits the area as a really good place to live because of outdoor activities and the wholesome environment for raising kids. After three decades of delivering obstetrics and gynecological services to women, Mesko has coined a new word while recognizing a new milestone in his career, “I have now moved into the area of delivering babies of babies I had delivered. These are my grand-deliveries.”
Mesko has witnessed many changes over the last 30 years but noted one of his proudest moments was being able to see the Mena hospital move from a small rural hospital to becoming a leader in new technology. With the addition of the new state of the art Women’s Center, Mena Regional Health System was one of the earliest small hospitals that acquired Telemedicine. Mesko along with Mena Regional Health System were on the forefront to try and get the best for rural hospitals and communities. Mesko elaborated, “Telemedicine is where you interact with the Med-Center in real time.” The hospital also has a stroke network monitor on location. A doctor can instantly talk with a neurologist in Little Rock. Every second counts during possible strokes so the neurologist is able to consult with the local provider, providing critical recommendations and instruction.
This advantageous technology has removed multiple barriers in healthcare, especially for patients living in a rural setting and with limited means for travel to specialists, etc. Mesko discussed other benefits made possible through telemedicine such as allowing for specific ultrasound services for women with high-risk pregnancies. The hospital also now has capabilities to show a dermatologist in Little Rock a skin lesion and they can relay how to treat it. The range of assistance is expansive and even includes psychiatric treatment for women suffering post partum depression or helping women that may be struggling with a difficult pregnancy. It also allows for many healthcare providers to obtain required continuing education hours and eliminating the travel.
Mesko is particularly proud to have been a recipient of an award that was presented to him in 2007 by two renowned Ob/Gyn doctors, Dr. Stephen Marks and Dr. Workman of Arkansas for his tireless efforts in bringing telemedicine to MRHS. Mesko was instrumental in targeting grant funding and attending multiple conferences. He was the first non Med-Center person to receive this distinguished award.
Being a member of the First Baptist Church, a deacon, and Sunday school teacher are some of his proudest accomplishments. Mesko believes that the purpose of everyone as a Christian is to tell other people how much God loves them. “So often we don’t feel loved,” he said. Mesko says he regularly prays with his patients before surgery or even when they are just struggling with things. In my daily life and what I want is… I want people to know God loves them.” Mesko said. “What people need to hear is that everything we do stems from what we believe about God. If we believe He is angry with us then we will act a certain way, but if we believe that He wants good for us and to bless us we will act in another way.”