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A conversation with BVHS CMO Renee Smith

Dr. Renee Smith, the new Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS), which includes Bluffton Hospital, met with the Bluffton Icon for a meet and greet over the phone. It was just “Day 9” of her new assignment. We talked with Smith about her background in family medicine and the role of primary care.

Smith’s mother was a stay at home mom and school bus driver. Her father worked for the Milwaukee Journal as a tool and die maker. Why did she choose a medical career? “I was always good at science. I think you hear a lot of people talk about ‘I always wanted to be a doctor’ but I was a junior in high school when it dawned on me that I could parlay my interest in science into a medical career. I always wanted to help people out and have an impact on people’s lives.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in medical microbiology and immunology and an Executive Master of Business Administration degree, Dr. Smith obtained her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is board certified in family medicine by the American Board of Family Medicine.

As CMO, Smith works with over 200 clinicians employed by the Blanchard Valley Health System and closely affiliated private practices. Virtually all areas of medical care are available through BVHS. When you visit the “find a doctor” search tool on, 131 options are available.

Having a primary care provider is “the most important relationship you can have for your health and wellbeing. If you don’t right now have a primary care provider, I would recommend going to the Blanchard Valley Health System web site and start that search,” according to Smith. She also notes that “You shouldn’t be discouraged if the first relationship just isn’t a fit…. You know, sometimes [patients] tell us things they don’t tell anyone else, so it’s really important to make sure that fit is there.”

Smith emphasized that it is “greatly important that everyone maintain their health and wellbeing throughout this pandemic response [period].... All health systems now understand the importance of maintaining their services for all the patients they serve, COVID and non-COVID.” She added, “that’s our goal, to get back to the routines that pre-existed…eyes checked, teeth cleaned, screenings done, any underlying health conditions managed. And certainly receiving vaccines--protecting yourself, protecting others--is a great way to get to that next phase [of normal].”

Regarding COVID-19 information burnout? “Always go to those core sources of truth,” which for the Blanchard Valley Health System is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).