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Greenfield, Mo. community mourns the loss of doctor to COVID-19

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 6:43 PM CST
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GREENFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The small town of Greenfield only has two family physicians. And now that’s down to just one.

The doors of the Greenfield Medical Center are now shuttered because of the death of 52 year-old Dr. Michael Bennett, who passed away March 6 after a battle with COVID-19.

The father of two who enjoyed farming, biking, and the outdoors had practiced in Greenfield for 16 years .

Those who knew him said he was what you looked for in a small town doc.

“It’s great to have small town doctors because there’s a closeness and bond with their community,” said Pam Cramer, the Dade County Health Director who worked with Bennett.

“I know I could call him any hour of the day or night and he’d respond back,” recalled Greenfield Police Chief Tim Larkin, who was both a patient and friend of Bennett. “I know when I caught COVID he checked on me personally. He was a person you could trust.”

“When you went to see him it didn’t matter how many (patients) were ahead or behind him, you were something special when you went into his office,” added Nancy Lowe of Lowe’s Realty, a friend of the family.

Dr. Bennett fully understood the dangers of being on the front-lines in fighting the deadly disease, putting his health at risk to keep others from dying.

“He was very cautious with everything,” Larkin pointed out. “Masks everywhere, face shields. It really surprised me when he caught it.”

“To be as young as he was and as physically in good shape as he was, I would never have dreamed that would have got him,” Lowe said.

“We just knew he was going to be okay,” Cramer said. “So when he passed away it was a very personal thing here at the health department. "

A grandmother of 14, Cramer is also a hands-on health care worker right down to the dental clinic and work-out gym she’s brought to the county.

She also took it upon herself to check on all the positive COVID-19 tests in the county.

“Well, his name came across,” she recalled of the day she learned he was sick. “When you get a positive COVID you call ‘em.  And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m a positive.’ And the next day he said, ‘I’m in the hospital.’  I said, ‘Really! Well, we’ll stay in touch. I know things will improve for ‘ya.’  But they didn’t.”

Bennett is the 31st resident of Dade county to die from COVID-19 in an area where there’s a lot of doubters about the virus.

“This part of the country they just don’t think it’s real,” Lowe said.

“They just need to realize that COVID is real,” Cramer said. “It is serious and it could be your loved one tomorrow or even you.”

So now this small town mourns the loss of one its own and also worries about the massive void left by his absence.

“It’s devastating to us because we’re about 50 miles away from Springfield and Dr. Bennett was kind of the main guy here,” Lowe said. “We don’t have our doctor anymore. That’s a scary thing. What are we going to do next?”

Kaiser Health News and The Guardian have been tracking health care worker deaths from COVID-19. They report more than 3,500 health care workers who’ve died of complications from the virus.

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