Meet the Doctors who work in the dark at OMC
Radiologists at OMC play a very important role in patient care
On Valentine’s Day this year, local resident Brenda Land posted on
her Facebook page, “Valentine’s Day has a lot of special meanings
for us. There is one Valentine’s Day in 1997 that stands out in
my mind as one of the most significant.”
In October, 1996, Brenda’s husband, Larry, was thrown from a horse
and sustained a serious head injury. After two brain surgeries and several
weeks spent in a neurotrauma unit in Springfield, the Lands thought he
was on the mend. “His neurologist in Springfield ordered a follow-up
CT of his brain here in West Plains at OMC for our convenience,”
Brenda said. “This was to make sure the problem was gone and everything
looked good. I remember it was Valentine’s Day and I was at a business
meeting for work when I got a call from Larry.”
Dr. Rob Armstrong, radiologist at Ozarks Medical Center (OMC), had reviewed
Larry’s scan and saw an aneurysm in a different area of the brain
from the injury. “Larry’s neurosurgeon was confident that
this couldn’t be true, as many doctors had reviewed his scans in
Springfield and no one saw this,” Brenda said. “We were instructed
to bring the scans and meet with the neurologist the next day in Springfield.”
“The doctors in Springfield had been focused on another part of the
brain, where the injury was, and had totally missed the aneurysm. Surgery
was scheduled the next day. The surgeon told us if the aneurysm ruptured
during surgery, there would be nothing that they could do. Thankfully,
the surgery was successful,” Brenda said.
“I cannot say enough about my appreciation for OMC’s Dr. Rob
Armstrong. He caught something the doctors in Springfield all missed.
OMC is so blessed to have him. We celebrate another Valentine’s
Day, thanks to Dr. Armstrong,” Brenda said.
OMC has four board certified radiologists on staff: Dr. Rob Armstrong,
Dr. Beth Cooper, Dr. Jerry Howard, and Dr. Jeffery Gordon. Working in
the OMC Imaging Department, these physicians specialize in diagnosing
and treating disease and injury through the use of medical imaging techniques
such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
and ultrasound. They act as expert consultants to the referring physician
by interpreting the resulting medical images. Radiologists also perform
minimally invasive, image-guided therapeutic interventions such as biopsies,
injecting contrast agents to enhance various organ systems followed by
an imaging procedure, drainage procedures, and more.
Dr. Rob Armstrong, Board Certified Radiologist
Dr. Rob Armstrong is in his 30th year at OMC. Dr. Armstrong grew up in
West Plains and graduated from West Plains High School. He went to college
at Missouri S&T in Rolla and then medical school at University of
Missouri in Columbia. He spent one year as a clinical instructor in the
radiology department at University of Tennessee in Memphis prior to coming
back to West Plains and OMC.
Dr. Armstrong has seen a lot of changes in the field in the past 30 years.
In his opinion, the biggest change is the number of procedures performed
and the complexity of the procedures. “We have moved from radiography
and fluoroscopy (images using X-ray) to a digital imaging environment
that is driven by CT, MRI and ultrasound,” he said. “It is
an ongoing learning process through either formal instruction or self-learning
with the technology,” he said.
“We’ve also gone from a family practice-driven environment
to a specialist-driven environment,” he said.
When asked what he does in his free time, he said, “I read mammography…I’m
Dr. Armstrong and his wife, Jerris, have two daughters, Kelli and Amy.
Dr. Armstrong does have some free time and he enjoys competitive skeet
and trap shooting, deer and turkey hunting, and spending time on his acreage
promoting wildlife and conservation. Dr. Armstrong is consistently named
to 417 Magazine Top Docs list.
Dr. Beth Cooper, Board Certified Radiologist
Dr. Beth Cooper grew up in Maine and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts
in Biology from the University of Maine. She completed medical school
at the University of New England College of Medicine, residency at Geisinger
Medical Center, and fellowship at Brown University at Rhode Island Hospital.
Prior to coming to OMC, Dr. Cooper was a radiologist at The Medical Center
in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Her daughter was 8 years old and she was working
a lot of shift hours. “I didn’t like being gone all the time
and felt like I was missing out on things with our daughter. I wanted
to find something that was more of an 8 to 5,” Dr. Cooper said.
In 2012, she and her husband, Tom, relocated to West Plains where she took
a radiologist position at the OMC Imaging Department. “My professional
career as a radiologist is very rewarding. I truly enjoy what I do,”
Dr. Cooper said. “I have been lucky to have always had a wonderful
staff to work with.”
“Technology changes so rapidly in the field of radiology. Radiologists
must be willing to be progressive and embrace the new technology that
is constantly evolving. This is so beneficial to the community and our
patients,” she added.
Dr. Cooper’s husband, Tom, is employed by the West Plains R-7 School
District. By trade, he is a mechanical engineer and through Project Lead
the Way, he teaches beginning engineering classes to 7th through 12th graders.
In their spare time, they enjoy traveling. “Each year we choose a
different national park to visit,” Dr. Cooper said. The family also
enjoys sporting events and visiting family in Maine and Florida.
Dr. Jerry Howard, Board Certified Radiologist
Dr. Jerry Howard is in his sixth year at OMC Imaging Department. Dr. Howard
grew up in Alaska and after medical school at Loma Linda University, completed
his residency at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Wanting to stay
in Missouri to be close to family in Branson, Dr. Howard and his wife
Carmen were excited to come to West Plains.
Dr. Howard finds being a radiologist a very satisfying job and enjoys the
collegial aspect of working with clinicians. “Having the ability
to have an impact on patient care and the well-being of the patient through
imaging means a lot to me,” Dr. Howard said. “Being able to
interact with a patient during a procedure and helping them by relieving
symptoms is truly one of the reasons that I chose this field.”
The Howards recently adopted a baby boy, Gabriel, from the community where
Dr. Howard grew up in Alaska. The Howards had looked into adoption for
several years, and were contacted in December of 2015 by a childhood friend.
“We had just two weeks notice that this adoption was a possibility,”
Dr. Howard said. “Carmen flew there immediately and was there for
the birth. I joined her shortly after. Our little boy keeps us busy and
is a blessing to us both.”
In their free time, the Howards are involved in their church and enjoy
traveling to Springfield and Branson to visit family.
Dr. Jeffery Gordon, Board Certified Neuroradiologist & Spinal Interventionist
The newest member of the radiologist team at OMC is Dr. Jeffery Gordon.
Dr. Gordon is a board certified neuroradiologist and spinal interventionist.
Dr. Gordon graduated medical school from the University of Mississippi
in Jackson then completed his internship, fellowship, and residency at
the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Prior to coming to OMC, he was
employed at Consulting Radiologists, Ltd., in Minneapolis, Minn.
Dr. Gordon grew up in Mississippi and he and his wife, Tracy, recently
relocated to West Plains. “We are happy to be close to Tracy’s
parents in West Plains, Travis and Kathy Morrison,” says Dr. Gordon.
Tracy is on the faculty at Arkansas State University as Chair of the Occupational
“I enjoy consulting with other physicians and solving difficult cases,”
said Dr. Gordon. “The field of radiology is constantly evolving
at a rapid pace. OMC has done a good job of keeping up with the advancing
technologies. The community is fortunate to have such a state-of-the art
imaging services at their disposal.”
The Gordons are getting settled at their home in West Plains. In his spare
time, Dr. Gordon enjoys hunting deer, dove, and duck; spending time with
his dogs; running; and working out.
“We have outstanding physicians who have trained at the Mayo Clinic,
Brown University, and the University of Missouri. Healthcare is about
the people, touching lives and making a difference,” said Tom Keller,
President and CEO of OMC. “Our radiologists are behind the scenes,
touching lives every day.”