The moment she met him, Cori Rogel knew Dr. Mark Larson of KVH Family Medicine - Ellensburg was someone special.
It was December 2003. Cori and her husband Mike were expecting their first child, a daughter they would name Quinn. Friends recommended Larson, who as a family physician treats patients of all ages for chronic and acute conditions, performs health screenings and coordinates treatment for patients he refers on to other doctors.
"I just loved him instantly," Cori recalls. "You could tell he wanted to know you as a person, not just a patient." When Quinn arrived the following August, the couple liked Larson so much that instead of finding a pediatrician they made him their family doctor.
Eleven years later, the Rogels, now living on the west side, are so confident in him that they drive 280 miles round trip for appointments.
They say Larson, who has guided them through a myriad of health issues over the years, makes well-being a family affair with a personal touch.
Example: the birth of their second daughter Layne. When Cori's pregnancy turned difficult, Larson didn't hesitate to refer her on to a specialist and checked up on her even while on vacation with his family.
When Layne developed MRSA at 3, Larson was at their side. "It was such a scary time," Cori says. "At first we heard from him every day. I always knew he was there – even at 3 a.m."
Quinn broke her leg at 3 and her collarbone at 5. Anxious by nature, she "hates hospitals but loves Dr. Larson," her mother says. Gentle and patient, he built rapport by taking an interest in her love of horses.
In 2013, Cori consulted Larson about a spot on her leg. "Whether you want to hear it or not, he's honest," she says. "He said he'd do a biopsy but wanted me to know he thought it was melanoma."
He was right. When he called to tell her, he'd already referred her to a specialist he respected in Seattle. "I had surgery to take a chunk out of my leg and they took lymph nodes from my groin to see if it had spread," she says. Then came the nervous wait for results – and a moment quintessentially Larson.
"When he got the results he showed up on my doorstep at 7 p.m. because he was so thrilled it hadn't spread," Cori says. "What doctor does that?"
She calls Larson compassionate, brilliant but humble enough not to hesitate to refer patients on and "totally committed to our family's well-being. He's been with us as we walked through life," she says. "But it's not just us. I have many friends who say the same thing. It's a unique gift he has."