May 31, 2019 marked the last day Gary Bochna, MD practiced medicine with the Rapid City Medical Center Gastroenterology Department.
Dr. Bochna began with the Rapid City Medical Center in July of 1987 when the practice was located at 728 Columbus Street in downtown Rapid City. He was recruited out of fellowship at the University of Nebraska, Omaha by Ken Vogele, MD. Dr. Vogele knew the program director at Nebraska and Dr. Bochna was considered a “shining star.” Dr. Bochna recalls that time was one of limited job opportunities. He contemplated moving home to Wisconsin to practice but at his program director’s urging, he and his wife, Sue, traveled to Rapid City to meet with Dr. Vogele. The Bochnas were “impressed with the area,” especially the geography and the Rapid City Medical Center opportunity – and the rest he says, “is history!” Dr. Bochna felt than and believes today the best care possible occurs when physicians lead the effort.
Over his 32 year career at the Rapid City Medical Center, Dr. Bochna was inspired by collegiality with other physicians and staff. He appreciated Dr. Vogele’s mentoring and vision, finding that oftentimes new physicians do not have someone willing to take the time to teach both the medical and business side of the practice of medicine. Drs. Bachwich, McGuire, and Tillotson joined the group in the late 90’s which Dr. Bochna recalls had an immediate positive impact for GI patients in our community.
When asked to share the highlight of his career, Dr. Bochna indicated without hesitation it is his relationships with patients. He feels the people in the Black Hills community are genuine, full of integrity and engaged in their care. He enjoyed collaborating outside of GI with other RCMC specialists. While electronic medical record requirements have been the most difficult burden, Dr. Bochna feels honored for his time spent with patients and cannot think of a better profession to which one devotes his life. He cautions physicians from relying on tests “right out of the blocks,” rather urges them to spend time speaking with patients as they often hold the keys to the answer. Patients know their own bodies, and it is a physician’s job to listen and analyze what is said and then apply it to the medical issue at hand.
Dr. Bochna has seen an increase in “fatty liver disease” over his career, which is a concern. He attributes this to the change in Americans’ diet and sedentary lifestyle. The best medical advancement has been the use of “screening colonoscopies,” resulting in a vast decrease in colorectal cancer deaths.
In his retirement, Dr. Bochna hopes to travel, garden, and be engaged in the “music scene” again, playing the trombone, which has been a past joy for him. His eyes twinkle when he thinks of potential future grandchildren. On behalf of the Rapid City Medical Center physicians and staff and The Endoscopy Center staff, we wish Dr. Bochna well. He will always hold a special place in our hearts.