SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center Health will have just two general surgeons available starting Aug. 1.

General surgeon Dr. Jian-zhe Cao and family are moving to Salida, CO. There Cao also will work as a general surgeon for Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center.

Coa’s last day at Sioux Center Health was Wednesday, July 31.

“This was my first job out of training, and it provided a great environment,” said Cao 44. “I grew a lot as a general surgeon, I grew a lot as a physician, and it was a great community to raise a family in. We love this community. We chose to come here to be closer to family my wife had in northwest Iowa and why we’re leaving is, once again, to be near family.”

Cao admits to missing the mountains a bit, too. His family moved to the United States from China when he was 10. Though they initially lived in Oklahoma, they moved to Colorado. There, Cao graduated from Boulder High School, then went to the University of Colorado Boulder for his undergraduate degree and the University of Colorado at Denver for medical school. He completed his general surgeon residency at Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver.

“When I was starting my college career, I was really interested in biological science,” Cao said. “Medicine, in some ways, is an extension of biological science. I also had an interest in caring for people. Those two things led me to be a medical doctor. As far as surgery itself, I like doing things with my hands. And in surgery or any type of procedural work physicians do, we can effect a patient’s outcome more so than just with medication.”

Cao joined Sioux Center Health in October 2012 as well as helping out at Floyd Valley Healthcare in LeMars. Cao performed surgical procedures twice a week in Sioux Center and once a week in LeMars and emergency services as needed.

“I enjoyed the rural setting because there were a variety of procedures I do here as a general surgeon that I wouldn’t do in an urban setting,” he said.

Surgeries he performed included colonoscopies, upper scopes, gull bladder removals, hernias, appendectomies and cesarean sections.

“A c-section is definitely something a general surgeon only gets to in a rural setting,” he said. “I really enjoy those because I think it’s neat to be involved in that birth process, if needed.”

Cao and his wife Laura Truitt lived in Sioux Center with their four children who are 11, 8 and twin 4-year-olds.

“What I enjoyed most about Sioux Center were the people,” Cao said. “I really enjoyed working with the staff from administration to janitorial service, everyone is really nice. It’s a great community that cares about each other. And of course my surgery crew are wonderful people too.”

Salida had a population of 5,236 at the 2010 census.

“I’m looking forward to doing the exact same thing I did here just there because I enjoy what I do,” Cao said.

General surgeons Drs. Nicholas Mouw and Shahid Naqvi will continue to staff Sioux Center Health’s General Surgery Clinic.

“We evaluated the potential work volume and our two general surgeons said they’d be OK for the time being,” said Sioux Center Health CEO Cory Nelson. “We’re going to take six months to evaluate how it’s going.”

Nelson said Sioux Center Health is also doing a “soft recruit.”

“If we come across the right person, the right fit, then we might add another staff member, but we’re not in a hurry. We want to find the right person for Sioux Center Health,” Nelson said. “Jian was so personable, and he had a great demeanor with patients That’s something we want to emulate with next surgeon.”