Dr. Jeff R. Martin and his family
Dr. Jeff R. Martin and his family

Jeffrey R. Martin, M.D., serves as Chair of the LGH Department of Family Medicine. We asked Dr. Martin about his Department’s priorities, what he loves about family medicine and his own family’s Lancaster County roots.

What is your background?
I was born on the Fourth of July in Brazil, where my parents worked with the Mennonite church. I grew up in Colorado, except for two years in Maui, when my father ran a rental car business (a far cry from his prior job as a Mennonite pastor). My mom was a nurse, and I knew early on that I wanted to be a doctor. My own family doctor was gentle, calm and comforting. He was a good role model for me. I met my wife Kristina at Goshen College. After I graduated from University of Colorado Medical School, my brother-in-law, Dr. Leon Kraybill, recommended the LGH Family Medicine Residency Program. That’s how I ended up here. I originally wanted to be a rural family doctor, delivering babies in the mountains of Colorado. I worked at Family Medicine Twin Rose for 1.5 years, then joined the residency program faculty full time. I became managing physician at Care Connections in 2013 and split my time as faculty.

What do you enjoy most about your work—both teaching residents and caring for complex patients?
We attract the best residents in the country, year after year. That pushes us as faculty members to up our game. I learn as much as I teach. At Care Connections, I’ve always enjoyed uncovering how issues such as poverty, housing, behavioral health or lack of social support contribute to our patients’ medical problems. To be able to make a difference in someone’s life by addressing those issues is very satisfying.

How is practicing family medicine in Lancaster County unique?
Lancaster County has a greater percentage of family physicians than other areas in the East. This is in part driven by the residency program. In a lot of ways, a strong primary-care base is really the driving force for health care in this community. It helps the whole system function more smoothly, and we need to maintain it. I am a very staunch advocate for the residency program, for developing broad-spectrum physicians and for family medicine in general.

How did you get involved in community service?
Community involvement has always been a passion of mine, and it goes well with family medicine. After all, our patients spend most of their time in their community. As a resident, I got involved with Vantage House, a long-term addiction recovery program for women and their children. While serving as President of the city Board of Health, I discovered the depth of the lead poisoning problem in Lancaster city and county. I helped to start the Lancaster Lead Coalition, now part of the Partnership for Public Health, which I chair.

How did you get involved in a leadership role?
I recently left Care Connections and now divide my time between the residency program and the Chair position. I see patients two or three half-days per week, as well as precepting residents. As a faculty member, I have been involved in almost every aspect of our health system. I’ve also completed the Physician Leadership Academy, Wharton Executive program and the Physician Leadership program with the Pennsylvania Medical Society. That unique perspective and experience, along with my community involvement, makes serving as Chair a natural progression.

What are some of your priorities as Chair?
Family doctors are uniquely positioned to provide both medical and psychosocial care, as well as fully understand the barriers to caring for our patients holistically. I’d like to introduce some of the innovative concepts I’ve learned at Care Connections and the Partnership for Public Health. Overall we are seeing more vulnerable patients with challenging situations. By developing effective mechanisms to unravel them, we can create a better quality of life for our patients, while also controlling costs and unnecessary utilization. We’ll also continue to work with the community to help our patients stay well and address social determinants of health that drive cost and prevent effective health-care engagement.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
My wife and I have three kids, ages 17, 19 and 22. Our house is always a beehive of activity. We enjoy hiking, traveling and taking day trips. I love riding my bike and skiing, including an annual ski trip out West with Drs. John Yoder and Lorin Beidler. I also enjoy vegetable gardening and reading. I’m fascinated by the story of the Amish and Mennonites in Pennsylvania and beyond. My father was the first in our family to leave Lancaster County, where the Martins have lived for nearly 300 years.

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