SPOKANE – A long-time family health practitioner in Tonasket recently received an Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner 2008 Award at the 21st Annual Pacific Northwest Rural Health Conference in Spokane March 20-21.
Dr. Walter Henze, retired from North Valley Family Medicine, received his award from Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers at the Washington Rural Health Association (WRHA) Awards Luncheon. The award is based on the overall contributions a practitioner has made to benefit rural health over the course of his career.
Henze has practiced medicine in the North Okanogan Valley for more than 30 years, according to a nomination letter submitted on his behalf.
“During his more than three decades in the valley, Dr. Henze had to face many challenges,” the letter said. “But just as his best event in skiing has been the long-distance race, he stayed the course. Throughout all the challenges, he defined the heart, soul and mind of rural family medicine.”
The letter continues, informing the WRHA that Henze cared deeply for his patients.
“He worked innumerable hours delivering babies and trying to put back together the shattered bodies from highway accidents or rodeo mishaps,” it read.
He was also a teacher.
“He taught generations of medical students and other health science students to become not only superb clinicians, but good people with an understanding of rural culture.”
Now retired, Henze still lives in the area.
“Although he has put down his well-worn stethoscope, he continues to provide leadership in the medical community of North Central Washington. His influence and dedication will continue to affect the lives of the thousands of people for whom he provided care and inspiration over his years as the quintessential rural family doctor.”
State Secretary of Health Mary Selecky and Rep. McMorris made all the presentations at the luncheon, which was also attended by Gov. Christine Gregoire.
The Washington Rural Health Association’s primary focus is to advocate for the preservation and improvement of rural health and healthcare in Washington State.