Vilma’s Story

Vilma’s Story

“It’s Just Where My Heart Is”

Vilma’s Story

The rewards of life in greater Nebraska have always been a draw. Whether it’s the slower pace, the sense of community, the abundance of nature or simply less traffic, the percentage of Americans who would choose to live in a small town or rural area is on the rise.

For Dr. Vilma Rodriguez-Cline, it’s the opportunity to build strong relationships with patients and the sense of satisfaction in providing comprehensive care.

“It’s really rewarding to be part of the community,” Dr. Rodriguez-Cline said. “You don’t just find or see your patients in the clinic but at outings or at the store. You get to know their family, not just them as patients. They recognize you, you recognize them, and it’s just a nice feeling to have that kind of relationship with them.”

Born in El Salvador, Dr. Rodriguez-Cline moved to Kearney, Nebraska, when she was 10 years old. After graduating from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, she received her medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, and completed residencies in family practice at the Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

After completing her training, she wanted to live in a smaller town for her family, and chose Columbus, Nebraska.

“Columbus was a wonderful community and very welcoming for us,” she said.

A certified medical review officer, Dr. Rodriguez-Cline provides in-house occupational medicine services at Columbus Community Hospital. Her presence in the clinic significantly streamlines the process of obtaining results, allowing for quicker communication with companies and efficient return to work for employees.

According to Director of Occupational Health Services Danielle Frewing, the hospital serves over a thousand clients locally and statewide. Core services include pre-employment physicals, drug and alcohol testing, hearing tests and respiratory exams. The hospital also provides DOT physicals for truck drivers.

“Having Dr. Rodriguez-Cline in the clinic is very impactful,” Frewing said, “and helps create an efficient process to get results back to our customers or our companies in a quick manner. They’re wanting to hire, so it’s important that we get any type of testing results back to those companies as soon as possible.”

In addition to her routine hospital duties in Columbus, Dr. Rodriguez-Cline travels to the Lindsay Medical Clinic and Humphrey Medical Clinic, both Rural Health Clinics associated with Columbus Community Hospital, which offer family medicine and occupational health services.

“The feedback that we see with Dr. Rodriguez-Cline is that she’s very thorough and takes her time. Patients really feel like they’re heard,” said Chantel Sempek, practice manager for the Humphrey and Lindsay Medical Clinics. “She doesn’t rush them in and out. They can talk to her about their problems and really get the answers that they’re looking for.”

Dr. Rodriguez-Cline’s patients also appreciate the fact that they don’t have to drive to a larger town to be treated. According to Sempek, it’s often an hour to the nearest clinic or Urgent Care.

“We’ve also started a pharmacy courier service since there isn’t a pharmacy within these communities,” Sempek said. “Patients can often get their medications same day.”

Dr. Rodriguez-Cline knows there are other challenges associated with rural health care too. “Getting patients to specialty clinics can be tough. It can take time,” she said. “What I’ve learned to do is to reach out to those specialty clinics and find out what we can do in the meantime while they wait for their appointment. Do we need labs? Can we start some medication before we get them to you?”

Dr. Rodriguez-Cline loves her role in servicing rural communities’ health needs because of the satisfaction of helping people.

“You can be their cheerleader,” she said. “You can be their friend. You can be their counselor. It’s nice to be able to help the person as a whole, not just one little area of their body. I love rural health because it’s just where my heart is.”

Dr. Vilma Rodriguez-Cline
Family Medicine and Occupational Health
Columbus Community Hospital
Columbus, Nebraska