Three Different Doctors…One Hospice Calling
Physicians Thom McGorey, John Basarich, and Vikram Goyal each took different paths to their work in hospice, but all of them have at least one thing in common. They’ve each made significant contributions to Rainbow Hospice Care over the years.
Dr. Thom McGorey has been associated with Rainbow Hospice the longest, since September 2003.
Thom McGorey, MD (Rainbow Hospice Care Medical Director)
“While practicing as a family physician, I referred many patients to Rainbow and was able to work in collaboration with the staff, while remaining involved with the patients as their attending physician,” said McGorey.
McGorey graduated from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and then completed his residency in Waukesha. After earning his certification from the American Board of Family Medicine, he has made numerous stops across the area, including at Watertown Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Family Clinic in Lake Mills, before opening a new clinic in Johnson Creek in 1999. McGorey then made a transition to emergency care at Edgerton Hospital for four years before returning to Watertown as a hospitalist and then with Fort Memorial Hospital, where he worked full-time until December 2019.
Just a few months before that, he happened to learn in a conversation with Rainbow Hospice Care President/CEO Karen Carrig that Rainbow had an opening for a full-time Medical Director. McGorey soon accepted the position and stayed on a part-time hospitalist at Fort until September 2020 and then left to devote his full attention and energy to Rainbow.
“I always envisioned making a full-time hospice practice the last stop in my professional journey and was very excited when the opportunity was presented to join Rainbow Hospice Care,” McGorey said. “For the past 15 months, I have had the privilege of serving many new patients and families in a new way while working with Rainbow’s incredible and caring staff of nurses, social workers, CNAs, volunteers, and the many behind-the-scenes managers, office and administrative staff that keep everything running.”
McGorey knows firsthand the value of hospice care and what that means for families and their loved ones.
“I was able to experience the value of hospice care directly as both of my parents neared their deaths and gained a better understanding from the perspective of the family that now allows me to identify with what family members are experiencing on the journey through their loved one’s end-of-life journey,” McGorey said.
John Basarich, MD
Dr. John Basarich has been working with Rainbow Hospice Care in some capacity since 2005. He was a former medical director at RHC and now works as a part-time hospice physician. He also has been employed as a physician at Watertown Family Practice since 2015.
His interest in hospice care started when he was in medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin and did a rotation with Dr. David Weissman at the Froedtert palliative care program.
“My eyes were opened to the opportunity to work within a team all focused on the same goal, as well having an impact on the patients and their families at the end of life,” said Basarich.
When Basarich first began working as a family physician with Dr. Jim Milford in Lake Mills, Milford put him in touch with Carrig and that quickly got the ball rolling to join Rainbow.
“Of course, I couldn’t say no to Karen! I have been working as a part-time hospice physician ever since,” Basarich said.
And now 16 years later he’s still helping Rainbow fulfill their mission of comfort, care, and meaning at end-of-life.
Vikram Goyal, MD
Dr. Vik Goyal, like Dr. McGorey, attended medical school at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago. After completing his training in Internal Medicine and another year as chief resident in Chicago, he took his first attending physician job as the Program Director for the hospitalist program at Watertown Regional Medical Center. There he encountered patients in every stage of different diseases, including patients at end of life.
“I witnessed time and time again the gratitude and appreciation from patients and their loved ones when I would have an open, honest, and direct conversation with them and give them an option that was in line with their goals of care, provided autonomy, and most importantly allowed them to ease their suffering,” said Goyal.
During his first year as a hospitalist, Goyal would often consult with Rainbow to assist with patient care.
“I was always so impressed by their holistic approach and creativity to ensure patients and their families received what they need,” Goyal said.
Soon, Rainbow Hospice Care Inpatient Center Manager Angie Zastrow put him in touch with Carrig and he received a call from her asking him to join the Rainbow team. Since November 2018, Goyal has worked as a hospice physician with Rainbow.
“Hospice care allows me to take a step back and look at the big picture and provide quality-focused and compassionate care to the person in front of me,” Goyal said. “Providing comfort care to my patients near the end of their life is the single most noble thing I can do as a physician, and that is an honor that I am tremendously grateful for.”
Despite the challenges of seeing patients during the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, these hospice physicians are grateful for the way the Rainbow team never gave up and adapted to meet new challenges each and every day.
“COVID has made everything more challenging over the past year,” Basarich said. “In many ways, though, it has strengthened my faith in the Watertown healthcare community. I have witnessed the many ways that the entire staff has continued to provide excellent care to patients and their families throughout the pandemic. It is a privilege to be a part of such a great team.”
“As the global pandemic stressed the health care system, Rainbow Hospice did what they always do – whatever is needed to provide the care that their patients deserve,” Goyal said. “The mission remained the same and the thoughtfulness and planning paid off as patients received excellent care despite innumerable obstacles.”
Each year on March 30, we celebrate National Doctor’s Day, which recognizes the incredible work of our physicians and the contributions they make to Rainbow Hospice Care and their patients and families in our communities.
“I want to recognize physicians in our community that support us through work as hospice physicians, as board members or in other consultative roles,” said Carol Brown, Rainbow Hospice Care VP of Quality & Clinical Operations. “The patient’s primary care physician is vital partner and team member in the care of individuals facing serious illness including those at the end of life. My sincere gratitude goes out to all of the amazing physicians serving our community!”
Those physicians include, besides Drs. Basarich and Goyal, Drs. Harold Anschuetz, Fred Gremmels, Zach Richardson, Sandhya Shah, Jennifer Klenske, Mohamed Yafai, Nate Fullerton, Ailleen Alquinto, and Jim Milford.