Neidlinger honored as Oaklawn Physician of the Year

Thomas Neidlinger, M.D., has received Oaklawn Hospital’s annual “Physician of the Year” award.

“It’s a pleasant surprise,” said Neidlinger. “I didn’t expect it. There’s a lot of nicer people around here than me.” Neidlinger is a family-practice physician with the Oaklawn Medical Group, based in the Wright Medical Building.

Neidlinger is senior member of the hospital’s medical staff, having joined Oaklawn in 1978. He joined Oaklawn Hospital’s Board of Directors in January 1999 and is its immediate former chair, serving from 2005 to 2008. He continues to serve as a board member.

His wife, Darlene, serves as co-president of the Oaklawn Hospital Auxiliary and is a registration clerk at Oaklawn.

The award announcement was made during a holiday gathering of hospital employees at the Marshall Activities Center.

Neidlinger “has been and continues to be very involved in working for – and making – Oaklawn Hospital better,” said Rob Covert, CEO of Oaklawn Hospital, in announcing the award. “He is a friend of mine and of everyone at Oaklawn. He is also my personal physician and I hold him at the highest level of respect. I trust him implicitly.”

Neidlinger “amazes me with his generosity in giving his time and talents for the betterment of Oaklawn Hospital,” Covert said. “He has been an amazing pillar of strength.”

A native of Tecumseh, Neidlinger completed his undergraduate studies at Michigan State University and received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1975. He completed his residency in family practice at the Grand Rapids Medical Education Center, and is certified by the American Board of Family Practice.

Neidlinger brought his family to Marshall because “I was interested in finding a Michigan community that was interested in a family physician locating there. We toured several cities, from Traverse City to Big Rapids to Ludington,” he said.

“We came to Marshall primarily because Rob Covert was so welcoming. ‘We need you here,’ he said. ‘We can foresee that there’s going to be growth. Please come and join us.’ He was more than hospitable. So, he was the key factor that got us here.”

Neidlinger has served eight years on the Marshall Public Schools Board of Education, and four years as its chairman. He regularly plays basketball and racquetball, and visits the Oaklawn Life Improvement Center “about five times a week.” The Neidlingers have four adult children and are expecting the birth of their first grandchild in February.

“I spent my whole professional career at Oaklawn,” Neidlinger said, “and it certainly seems like home.”

The award was established to recognize a physician who has demonstrated their commitment to Oaklawn Hospital’s culture and values, and to the community. To be nominated a physician must have been a member of Oaklawn’s active medical staff for at least three years, and may be nominated by hospital staff, medical staff or members of the Board of Directors.

Members of Oaklawn’s Medical Executive Committee made the final selection, based on nomination received from other Oaklawn employees and associates.

Comments made by those who nominated Neidlinger for the honor included:

“… values each individual’s contributions and strengths, is an expert listener, and values the opinions and ideas of colleagues and staff.”

“… is kind to children as well as elderly patients and treats them all with respect and understanding.”

“… unfailingly exceeds the standards he expects of others. …”

“… giving generously of his time to provide critical health care services to community members in need at the Fountain Clinic, service on the school board … and support of innumerable community projects, organizations and initiatives.”

“… keeps up with technology and with advances in medicine. …”

“… calls to check on my children when they have been ill … genuinely interested and concerned.”

Neidlinger is the second physician to receive the honor from Oaklawn. In late 2011, José Valle, M.D., received Oaklawn’s inaugural “Physician of the Year” award. Valle is an internal medicine specialist practicing with Oaklawn Medical Group – Marshall Internal & Family Medicine at 720 Old 27 North in Marshall.