Long-time Wabash doctor Keith Baird ’56 was named the 2005 Montgomery County Community Foundation Volunteer of the Year Thursday, earning the prestigious honor for his work with the Christian Nursing Service.
Baird, a former NASA doctor and flight doctor for the Apollo 13 mission, retired from family practice in 2000. That was also the same year he retired as Wabash's campus doctor, a position he held for nearly three decades.
Baird became a volunteer with the Christian Nursing Service in his retirement. He initially signed on to evaluate sick children in the CNS's Well Baby Clinic on Thursdays. In the five years since, his role has evolved significantly. Dr. Baird now sees more patients in one month than he saw in the entire first year he volunteered with CNS.
In addition to working with sick children, Baird now sees a record number of adults in the CNS's free Adult Health Clinic. Most adult patients haven't seen a physician in years, further complicating Dr. Baird's work with them. He now volunteers approximately nine hours a week, and according to the CNS stays at the clinic until every patient has been seen. The clinic's posted hours are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. two days each week; Dr. Baird routinely stays past 4 p.m.
"While more and more Montgomery County residents are unemployed and/or uninsured, CNS has experienced a sharp rise in the demand for services with a fixed income," says Nurse Manager Chris Amidon, R.N. "We're trying to help more people with fewer funds, and Dr. Baird has adapted to making do with limited resources and finding many creative ways to help people.
"More importantly, Dr. Baird treats every person with respect. It means a great deal to people who are sick to not feel rushed, to get all of their questions answered, and to be treated with dignity."
Dr. Baird is active as a Wabash alumnus and with his Wabash fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta. He is also a member of Kiwanis, Quiatenon, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
"Dr. Baird is quietly doing something to try to meet the needs of our changing community," said Greg Starnes, retiring president of the Montgomery County Community Foundation Board of Directors. "Without a volunteer physician, Christian Nursing Service would be unable to do what they do so cost-effectively, and a great many people would go without any medical care at all."