After eight years of round-the-clock service to Culberson Hospital, Van Horn Rural Health Clinic and the residents of Van Horn and surrounding communities, Ed Garner, D.O., has retired.
“This was not an easy decision because I love Van Horn and the people of the area,” said Dr. Garner, “but after 43 years as a family practitioner, my wife and I decided it was time for a break. It also helps to know that I am leaving my patients in the very capable hands of my colleagues at the Van Horn Rural Health Clinic.”
Dr. Garner joined the hospital and clinic staff in January 2013, offering diagnostic and treatment services, and chronic care management for his patients in both the clinic and hospital settings. He, along with David Cummings, M.D., Gilda Morales, DC, MSN, ANP-C, and Rodett Osorio, PA-C, also covered the hospital emergency department 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the staff at Culberson Hospital has been unable to formally acknowledge their appreciation to Dr. Garner. “At some point in the future, we will schedule one of our extravagant and infamous pot luck lunches at the hospital to let him know how much we will miss him,” said Rick Gray, hospital administrator.
Dr. Garner began his medical career in Comanche, Texas, after earning his medical degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Ft. Worth, Texas, and completing a rotating internship at Bay Osteopathic Hospital in Bay City, Michigan. He later moved to the Beaumont-Port Arthur area where he worked in several clinics and took time to raise his family of four children.
The practice of family medicine has changed dramatically since Dr. Garner started working as a physician in 1977. “Back then we delivered babies and performed common surgeries,” he explained. “However, as medicine became more specialized and insurance rates increased, virtually all family practice physicians and rural hospitals stopped providing these services.”
“While the demands of a rural practice have shifted, they still remain high,” continued Dr. Garner. “Now a small group of providers is responsible for meeting all of the primary care needs of the community from the clinic to the emergency department to the hospital, which can be both intellectually and physically challenging.”
Dr. Garner’s family moved to Texas in the early 1900’s, eventually acquiring 360 acres of land in Goldthwaite where the family raised cattle and mohair goats, and grew hay. Dr. Garner continues to own 90 acres of the original site, with the remainder of the land in the hands of other family members. “My cousin raises cattle on his acreage and purchases the hay I grow on my ranch,” noted Garner, “so we have a great partnership.”
When asked why he chose medicine as a profession, Dr. Garner is quick to say he wanted to escape the farm where he grew up. “When I was a young man, my chores included lifting 70-pound bales of hay. These bales have since been replaced by 1,200-pound bales that we move with a tractor. I’m thankful to say I’ve been replaced by a machine,” he laughed.
Now back on that farm, Dr. Garner looks forward to spending much of his free time enjoying his 12 grandchildren, ages 1 to 16. He recently completed construction of another home on his property that includes extra bedrooms for the extended family.
That being said, Dr. Garner will miss the people and places that make up Culberson County.
“I have enjoyed developing close relationships with my patients and the community, and have found everyone to be very friendly and appreciative,” he said. “While I will spend the next chapter of my life in Goldthwaite, Van Horn will always be my second home.”