February 20, 2017
Eastern Plumas Health Care’s new dermatologist, Dr. J. Hibler will be the first to tell you, it’s been a long road home. Recently Board Certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, Dr. Hibler grew up working in his father’s dermatology office in Ohio, which confirmed his interest in the specialty.
He was drawn to dermatology because of its hands on nature, and its visual aspect. Dermatology, like radiology and surgery are “very visual specialties. I’m blessed with a knack for picking up visual patterns,” said Dr. Hibler. Rashes, for example, have surface changes. It’s a “puzzle and a challenge. Pattern recognition is what makes dermatology so fascinating.”
Dr. Hibler not only knew what he wanted to do, he also had a fairly good idea of where he wanted to do it. His father was in the Navy, so he’s seen quite a bit of the country. After living in 21 different places growing up, he said he felt like he’d already spent enough time in Southern California, and was ready to move on from the Midwest, as well.
Northern California, however, has always interested him. “I’m attracted by the mountain culture and the beauty of the area,” said Dr. Hibler, who has been hoping eventually to make this move for the past fifteen to twenty years. “There’s something unexplainable about a rural, forested area. I love it here, and so does my wife.”
Dr. Hibler lives in King’s Beach and works with Dr. Kamenentsky in Truckee. It was Dr. Kamenentsky who suggested he might contact Eastern Plumas Health Care to see if they needed a part time dermatology specialist. “I called Tom (EPHC’s Chief Executive Officer), and we hit it off right away,” said Dr. Hibler. “It’s been nothing but blue skies.”
He also feels comfortable at EPHC because he is drawn to rural people and places. Back home in Ohio, the county he was from bordered on Appalachia. “That’s rural,” said Dr. Hibler. “People are underserved. If I didn’t have that beginning, I probably wouldn’t have the interest I do in Portola or even Truckee. I have a sincere appreciation and longing to serve the people I’ve been around most of my life.”
Also, he did a telemedicine project in rural East Africa for three months. That “was an eye opening experience,” he said. “I realize that underserved is a relative term. When you go to a place in Uganda or Kenya . . . and travel time for patients to the clinic is two days—that gives you an idea of rural.”
Besides the beauty of the place, Dr. Hibler said that Northern California rural is much friendlier than the Midwestern version. “If you’re going through Sierraville or Loyalton or Satley, and you make eye contact, you’ve got to give a wave on the road—it’s how you do it. You don’t do that in Columbus, OH. Here, it’s like home automatically.”
For Dr. Hibler, home encompasses the whole of a life. “Home for me is not just the physical place, it’s the accumulation of that and friends and family—whatever passion you have…there’s that niche you have. For me, it’s my practice, that my wife is happy, we get to enjoy outside and nature—the whole package that makes home home.”
Patients can call EPHC’s Portola Clinic at 832-6600 to make an appointment with Dr. Hibler.