Monett's medical community has expanded by three physicians. The trio of new doctors recently joined CoxHealth's staff of medical care providers.
Dr. Lisa Roark has begun practicing at Cox Family Medicine of Monett with Dr. Steven Newbold, and Dr. Ronda Azelton has joined Family Practice and Obstetrics of Monett with Dr. Allison Heider and Dr. Matt Green. Dr. Melissa Altom is now seeing patients at Family and Occupational Medicine of Monett with Dr. Mark Costley. Both Dr. Roark and Dr. Altom specialize in family medicine while Dr. Azelton's speciality includes family medicine and obstetrics.
The appeal of practicing in southwest Missouri and a smaller town is what attracted all three doctors to Monett.
Dr. Lisa Roark
A Barry County native, Dr. Roark always knew she would return to southwest Missouri to practice medicine. Roark graduate cum laude from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in 2007 and completed her residency at Cox Family Medicine in Springfield.
During her residency, Roark, who grew up in Exeter, was exposed to a full spectrum of family medicine experience, including operative obstetrics and training for rural practice. While in medical school, Roark was one of 12 students who opened a free clinic for the homeless population of downtown Kansas City.
Roark said her love for solving puzzles led her to pursue a career in medicine.
"Each patient is a puzzle, and the doctor has to find a way to ask the right questions to put all of the pieces together and come up with a solution," said Roark. "The challenge is enormous but so is the satisfaction of being able to help others."
Roark and her husband, Griff, and their sons, Maddock, 3, and Eli, 18 months, live on a small farm between Monett and Pierce City. In her spare time, Roark said she has learned to be an amateur veterinarian, helping horses foal and bracing broken chicken legs.
"We spend most of our time outside playing and working with one animal or another," said Roark. "Whenever we're not outside, we're working on remodeling our 1920s farm house."
Dr. Ronda Azelton
Dr. Azelton graduated from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in 2006 and completed her residency at the University of Wisconsin Family Practice in Eau Claire, Wisc.
During her residency, Azelton served as a physician at the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic and also served as head team physician for the CRUSH football team.
Azelton said the move to Monett has been a very positive experience.
"I love small town life," said Azelton. "I enjoy being able to watch whole families grow and develop throughout a lifetime. My family and I have felt very welcomed by the community."
Azelton's husband, Rob, is the Cox Rehab and Sports Medicine athletic trainer in Mt. Vernon. The couple have one son, Perry, who is 2 1/2 years old.
"I feel like Monett is an awesome place to raise a family," said Azelton.
When Azelton is not practicing medicine, she enjoys cooking and baking, crochet and cross stitch and watching and playing sports.
Dr. Melissa Altom
After practicing in Aurora for seven years and then moving to Arkansas for two years, Dr. Altom said she is thrilled to be back in southwest Missouri.
"When we decided to return to southwest Missouri, I felt blessed to have the opportunity to practice in Monett," said Altom. "It is a great fit for me. I love the friendly people and the small town atmosphere, and I enjoy coming to work every day."
Altom graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine in 1997. She completed her residency at Cox Family Practice Residency Program in Springfield.
Altom said she can't ever remember wanting to be anything but a doctor. Childhood visits to her hometown doctor, whose office she says was reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting, inspired her to pursue a career in medicine, and Altom said she'll never forget him coming to her home for a house call carrying his black bag.
"It made a lasting impression," said Altom.
Altom and her husband, Glenn, have two sons, Noah, 8, and Hunter, 6. The family enjoys camping, boating, spending time on their farm and going to church.