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MARSHALL – Melissa Kay Hart visited this Calhoun County community for the first time six years ago with her future husband, longtime Marshall resident Jacob Gates – and it changed her life in more ways than one.
“I really didn’t know Marshall before meeting him,” the Williamston native said. “I visited on the Fourth of July, and we did all the fun stuff – the parade, meeting the people – and later on eating at Louie’s. I just kind of fell in love with the town.”
Now, Melissa Gates is a doctor of osteopathic medicine who has joined the Oaklawn Medical Group as a family-medicine physician, and is will be seeing patients at Marshall Internal & Family Medicine at 720 Old U.S. 27 North, where appointments may be made by calling (269) 781-6600.
Gates said she learned about Oaklawn and its reputation for personal health-care service through her husband as well as another medical practitioner who was part of her residency program. However, her interest in medicine stems from an incident in her youth.
While growing up on a farm near Williamston, the young Melissa Kay Hart worked a great deal with animals, but her interest in human medicine took root at age 14 when her father suffered a heart attack.
“My father had open-heart surgery, and I really looked up to his physician,” Gates said. “He talked to me about medicine and the science was fascinating to me. The doctors were great role models, not only as leaders but as people. And they saved my father’s life.
“That kind of sealed the deal,” Gates said. “I wanted to be able to do that for people, too.”
In considering a medical specialty, she chose to work in the type of family atmosphere with which she was accustomed.
“I really enjoy taking care of babies and doing deliveries, all the way up to geriatrics. I couldn’t really decide what branch of medicine was my favorite, so I do it all.”
Gates received a bachelor of arts degree in biochemistry in 2008 from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., and went on to receive her degree as a doctor of osteopathy in 2014 from Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. She performed additional studies at Farmington Hills-based Bostford General Hospital from 2012 to 2014.
Earlier this year, Gates completed a residency in family medicine at Lansing-based Sparrow Hospital under the auspices of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, during which she served as a member of the clinical adjunct faculty.
Gates’ past work experience includes employment as a phlebotomist at Madison, Wis.-based Dean Health Care; as a research intern for Gaithersburg, Md.-based Transgenomic Inc.; as a research intern in epidemiology for New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and as a research fellow for the Department of Biochemistry at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.
During high school and college, Gates particularly enjoyed swimming – a sport she regards as peaceful and relaxing.
“It’s a way to reset everything, because you feel really great afterward,” she said.
Although Gates says that she is “very involved as a mother,” she still swims and runs, and she and her family enjoy camping and sailing.
Jacob Gates is a writer of fiction and young adult novels who will begin teaching this fall at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, and also will teach at Olivet College. The couple have been married for four years and have 3-year-old twins, Clara and Jonas.
The Gates family has been living in Lansing but now is in the process of moving to Marshall by this fall.
“We always wanted to live in a small town because we enjoyed them so much,” Melissa Gates said.