Growing up, Melinda Slack, M.D., always wanted to be a stand-up comedian. It wasn’t until high school that she discovered her love for science and subsequently, in medical school, her passion for taking care of babies. Her career began in 1982 when she joined Roger Medel, M.D., in Hollywood, Florida, where she learned the ins-and-outs of what it really takes to run a practice. She jokes that their team was always taught to think outside the box, but for Dr. Medel there was never a box. There were no limitations on what he could do.
A year later, she was recruited to Springfield, Missouri, to start a neonatal intensive care unit. Though a daunting task to many, Dr. Slack was up for the challenge and excited to put what she had learned from Dr. Medel to work. At the time, the nursery was a mere 600 square feet and placed in a renovated closet, but it has now grown to over 35,000 square feet and can comfortably care for 45 babies. This increase in practice capability is a true marker of Dr. Slack’s willingness and ability to grow as a physician and make an impact in her field.
For Dr. Slack, there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing the babies you took care of as they progress through life – no matter how old they are. She’s stayed in close contact with one of the babies she cared for (who just celebrated her 34th birthday!) and had the privilege of attending her wedding and then the delivery of her two children. It’s this kind of “indescribable” connectivity with patients, as she says, that is the main motivator for what she does every day.
She also proclaims the importance of her amazing team of nurses, saying, “There’s absolutely no one like them!” She believes part of what makes them such a close-knit group are the rules they established for themselves:
- always take great care of the patient,
- treat each other like family, and
- have a little fun at least one point in the day.
These ideas have manifested in a lot of the traditions for the Mercy Springfield team. One example, is the end of the year Christmas party put together for the team and their families (rumor has it, Santa makes a special trip down from the North Pole to visit every year). Another happens in October, when the unit organizes a preemie reunion event where families and the care team celebrate the amazing accomplishments and growth of their NICU graduates. It serves as a good reminder for Dr. Slack that all of those sleepless nights, bags under her eyes, and wrinkles are well worth it!
As Dr. Slack nears her retirement, she sums up her experience by saying, “It’s been a great ride, and I feel blessed.” From working with Dr. Roger Medel and seeing the foundation of the company to the growth of her Springfield practice, there was never a doubt in her mind that MEDNAX was the place to be. For over 38 years, she has truly embodied the spirit of quality patient care and will certainly be missed by her team. We wish her luck on her next adventure!
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