Endings and beginnings: Surgeon bridges hospital gap

Published 11:43 am Monday, November 21, 2016

Surgeon Dr. Jon Binkerd serves Chilton County at the new St. Vincent’s Chilton. (Contributed photo)

Surgeon Dr. Jon Binkerd serves Chilton County at the new St. Vincent’s Chilton. (Contributed photo)

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON —Dr. Jon Binkerd was the last surgeon to join the Chilton Medical Center surgical team before it closed. Four years later, he was the first surgeon to operate in the St. Vincent’s Chilton hospital earlier this year.

“I started in September and it closed in October,” Binkerd said.

That was in 2012.

When the Clanton hospital closed, Binkerd went into private practice in Clanton, but was affiliated with a hospital in Prattville.

“I grew up 20 miles north of here in Shelby County,” Binkerd said.

He also visited Clanton as a child.

St. Vincent’s Chilton opened on Oct. 7. Binkerd said he performed the first surgery on Oct. 11.

“It was skin cancer, removing a cyst … the surgery went perfect and I have seen him in follow up since then,” Binkerd said.

The moment was meaningful for Binkerd because he had wanted a hospital reopened in Clanton for the past four years. He even began hosting a radio station where he talked about the need for a hospital. A local hospital was especially important to him Chilton Medical Center was able to initially treat his brother for a heart attack before transporting him to a hospital in Alabaster.

“If the hospital had not have been here, I would not have my brother,” Binkerd said.

Now that the new hospital has opened, Binkerd is based at the Clanton hospital, but uses Prattville for after-hours operations.

“It’s a very exciting time. I am really looking forward to being here for the rest of my career,” Binkerd said. “Nobody wants surgery, nobody wants to have a colonoscopy, but I figure if they do … they might enjoy seeing someone who can relate to them, maybe even speak the same dialect I’m just here to serve.”

As the new facility continues to grow, Binkerd said he hopes after-hours call teams will be established, so he can do after hours surgeries in Clanton also.

“That is something I will actively pursue,” Binkerd said.

His mom lives in Randolph and both his siblings live in Clanton.

“I have family here … it is where I wanted to be,” Binkerd said.

He chose a home near Lake Mitchell when he first moved to town. Binkerd said he recently purchased property in Clanton to be closer to the hospital.

Lake Mitchell will still be his ”fortress of solitude.”

“There aren’t many places where you can go out in your front yard and watch a bald eagle sweep down and catch a fish,” Binkerd said.

Binkerd is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of medicine at Birmingham. He graduated in 2007 and went to the University of South Alabama to complete his surgery residency in Mobile. There he worked in a level one trauma center. He said the injuries and surgeries he had to complete there gave him

“When you have seen just about every kind of injury or accident that can happen to people, I think it gives you the confidence to practice the confidence to practice and do what you need to do to take care of people,” Binkerd said.

He primarily does minimally invasive Laparoscopic Surgery, mostly dealing with the stomach, esophagus and removing cancerous cells. He also does colonoscopies.