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Mercyhealth physician loves saving lives and training others to do the same

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Inspiring 815 Matt Smetana

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Emergency medicine stole Matt Smetana's heart.

This Rockfordian trained to be an EMT and started his career as a firefighter.

However, the ability to be by someone's side when they need it most really appealed to Smetana.

"I really loved being able to help somebody on the worst possible day of their life," Smetana said.

Smetana left the Forest City to finish his schooling until the opportunity to come back came up in 2016.

He's since brought his family back to his hometown as he accepted a job with Mercyhealth.

"I like being able to contribute to the community I grew up with. Rockford's got a lot of great things going for it," Smetana said.

I've really been impressed the last few years with the way the community is growing and developing. I think it's a really good place to call home.

Smetana is a MD-1 physician with Mercyhealth, which is a part of its Physician Field Response program.

"We send an emergency physician out into the field to assist fire departments, ambulances, law enforcement with critical patients," Smetana said.

In his five years with the health system, Smetana has left a strong impression with Mercyhealth leadership.

Chief Medical Officer John Dorsey sees Smetana as a great leader and a strong community liason.

"He loves to teach. He loves to bring people together. He loves to problem solve and he's exceptionally go at that," Dorsey said.

Teaching is a large part of Smetana's job.

He helps lead new hospital employees, as well as first responders, through simulations and training to handle any situation they may go through in the hospital or out in the field.

"Being able to train and do the simulation before you're actually out there taking care of the patient. I think it makes the better clinicians when seconds really matter in the field," Smetana said.

Smetana takes a lot of pride in his job like any first responder or healthcare worker would.

However, doing his job in his hometown adds a special element.

Every patient he comes across he tries to take care of like one of his own.

"There's always a sense of pride when you're taking care of your loved ones. Being able to improve the system that may care for your family members," Smetana said.

"I try to treat every patient like they're my family."

If you or someone you know is making a difference in our community for the better, you can fill out a nomination form here or you can email eleake@wrex.com.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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