BY JACLYN ROSE –
Dr. Randy Burgess grew up in neighboring LeFlore County, a graduate of Howe High School in 1970, he soon began working for a local vet, Dr, Phil Chitwood. “I worked for Dr. Chitwood after graduating high school and all through college and graduate school, during summer vacation and school breaks. After completing my education at Oklahoma State University, I joined his practice for a year and a half. I can credit the work for and with Dr. Chitwood for teaching me the medical and professional way to deal with animals and people. I will always be grateful for the time I spent there,” said Dr. Burgess.
Dr. Burgess was working with Dr. Paul DuBois in Poteau for a year and began developing a relationship with Ansata Arabian and Don and Judy Forbis, which had moved to Mena in 1981. “Don pulled in to Poteau one day around lunch time and wanted to take me to lunch. He said, ‘you’ll be our resident vet, what will it cost me,’” explained Burgess. For two and a half years, Dr. Burgess served as Ansata’s Resident Vet before opening his practice to other equestrians, and for 28 years he remained their attending physician.
After practicing out of his vet ambulance truck for many years, Dr. Burgess realized he could service the equine community better with a clinic and built the Ouachita Equine Clinic, where his practice resides today. The doors opened in August of 1993 and Dr. Burgess began seeing large animals from not only Arkansas but Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and other states around this region. Through the years of his practice, Dr. Burgess has watched the equine industry slow decline and was thankful to have the education needed to shift his focus from only large animal to also include small animals. He now meets the needs of the general public not only in the livestock industry but also in the pet industry with his practice open to all animals.
In 1997, Dr. Burgess married his wife, Kita, who is a vital part of Ouachita Equine Clinic. “Kita can do most anything here at the clinic. She is the office manager but assists me when she is needed and answers so many phone calls a day, it’s a wonder she doesn’t explode. She has three phones in there ringing all the time,” said Dr. Burgess with a laugh.
“The world has changed from the beginning of my practice, it is so much more technology driven but I can take comfort in the fact that I have been able to experience an awful lot and a computer can’t compare to that. I am a blend of old school with better technology then has ever been available for veterinarians,” explained Dr. Burgess. “Veterinary medicine is beginning to trend toward being like human medicine but I am proud to be the anesthesiologist, radiologist, obstetrician, optometrist, all in one. If we see something we deal with it at that time and that is so important. Whatever we do, we do it expediently and have the patient’s best interest at heart.”
“I really like outdoor activity and Polk County offers an endless amount. I enjoy fishing and hunting and I lived my first nine years in California and developed the idea that I do not want to live in concrete and asphalt.” said Dr. Burgess.