By: Anna Gilstrap
June 6, 2020 will mark the 6-month anniversary of the opening of Andrews Sports Medicine's satellite clinic in Cullman, Alabama.
Dr. Monte Ketchum - Non-Surgical Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Physician
Dr. Ketchum grew up in Brooksville, Florida, a small town about an hour north of Tampa. An athletic kid, he always wanted to play Division I college baseball and eventually made that dream a reality when he played for the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from WKU, Dr. Ketchum attended medical school at the Lincoln Memorial University - DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee, where he met his wife, Dr. Ashley Ketchum. She grew up in Saginaw, Michigan and is now a pediatrician at Internal Medicine and Pediatrics of Cullman.
Dr. Ketchum lives in Cullman with his wife, Dr. Ashley Ketchum, their 10-month-old son, Tucker, and chocolate lab, Maddie.
Q & A: Dr. Monte Ketchum - In His Own Words
Tell us about your first six months treating patients in Cullman.
Dr. Ketchum: I’m very grateful for all the hundreds of patients who have come through our clinic doors during our first six months in Cullman. We’ve obviously had a lot of patients from Cullman, but also many from surrounding areas including Hanceville, Good Hope, Vinemont, Addison, Arab, Baileyton, Eva, Huntsville and many places in between. The reason that we came to Cullman was we had a lot of patients that were coming from North Alabama and having to drive all the way to Birmingham, so this has been a lot more convenient for patients than having to make that trip.
Being a former athlete, I love to treat student-athletes. I’ve had the privilege of treating a lot of student athletes ranging from baseball, football, soccer and basketball to cross country, tennis and golf. It’s enjoyable to see the passion these student-athletes have for sports and that they and their parents are trusting in me and my team to help them return to their sport as safely as possible. In addition, I’ve treated quite a few middle-aged adults, those weekend warriors, who have injured themselves playing sports, doing yard work around or injured themselves out on the lake.
You’re a former Division I college baseball player, a graduate of the Andrews Sports Medicine/ASMI sports medicine fellowship program and now a full-time physician with Andrews Sports Medicine. What’s your story of going from athletics to the fellowship and then joining the practice?
Dr. Ketchum: I really wanted to be a professional baseball player growing up, but once I got to Division I around some of the top competition in the country, I realized I probably needed to use my brains instead of my athletic ability. I always enjoyed school and I knew I wanted to do something with athletics, so when I knew sports medicine was an option, that was a no brainer for me.
I’d always heard the name Dr. Andrews in the baseball world because when anyone got hurt, that’s where they were going. I interviewed all across the country for fellowships, but Andrews was always my number one choice.
Prior to fellowship, I had some job offers, but I wanted to keep the door open just in case there was going to be any kind of opportunity here. I thought it was a long shot, but an opportunity came up. Coming to work at Andrews to treat patients in Birmingham, and later Cullman once the clinic opened, was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
You and your family have been living in Cullman since August, 2019. How has that been?
Dr. Ketchum: We’ve really enjoyed it. We really love the city and all the people. The community has been great and very receptive. I grew up in a little small town with the small town atmosphere where everyone knew everyone, and I wanted to be able to raise my kids in the same atmosphere.
What are some of your favorite things to do around town?
Dr. Ketchum: Well, before the Coronavirus pandemic, my wife and I would both go to the Cullman Aquatic Center and work out and swim almost every day. We both like to golf, so we’ve done that at a lot of the courses nearby. There’s a ton of great places to eat—a lot of local restaurants. We take our boat out to Smith Lake, too, and that’s a really cool place to be. There’s a lot of cool things to do around here.
You mentioned coronavirus, so I have to ask, how has your work changed since it came into the picture in mid-March, 2020?
Dr. Ketchum: It’s definitely been a transition, but we've adapted to insure the health and safety of our staff and patients. We’ve taken a lot of different precautions to keep everyone safe, like wearing full N95 masks with gloves. We’ve transitioned over to doing a lot of telemedicine visits, especially for our high-risk patients because we don’t want to risk them coming into the clinic and being exposed. We’re starting to do more in-office visits now, but have implemented strict protocols to ensure the safety of our patients. Our staff has been outstanding with the extra sanitary measures we've put into place and our patients have been satisfied with their experience.
Coronavirus has also impacted you personally. Your sister Victoria, a nurse anesthetist in Tampa, went to New York City to treat COVID patients there for a month. What was that like for your family?
Dr. Ketchum: Obviously, they had a shortage of healthcare personnel in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Specifically with Victoria’s training as a CRNA, which is a lot of airway management, Victoria thought she could assist on the front lines. She felt compelled to help in any way she could, so as soon as she had the opportunity, she left Florida and boarded a flight to NYC.
Definitely everyone in our family was worried for her safety. My dad bought her all kinds of respirators and masks. We would do a family FaceTime every night with me, my two sisters, my dad and my grandparents after she got off her shift.
Everything went well. She was able to help a lot of people, and all of her tests for COVID-19 have been negative since she arrived back home in Florida.
What are your hopes for the Cullman clinic in the next six months and beyond?
Dr. Ketchum: My family loves being a part of the Cullman community and my wife, Ashley, and I want to continue to serve the citizens of this great community. In addition, I have a wonderful staff as well as a great orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Marc Rothermich, who also treats patients alongside me here in Cullman. Dr. Rothermich and I both want to positively impact the Cullman community for years to come.
Dr. Ketchum is accepting new patients. Call (205) 939-3699 to schedule an appointment today.