By Conrad Dudderar
In her 37 years as Yukon’s premier pediatrician, Dr. Alecia Hanes has treated nearly 20,000 children.
Caring for her young patients has been priority one, whether they were suffering from a common cold, bruised knee or even a complicated disorder.
Dr. Hanes officially retired in December 2021 after nearly 37 years in the pediatric profession.
The Yukon native built a successful private pediatric practice over parts of four decades before joining Variety Care in July 2020 for the last 1-1/2 years of full-time work.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Yukon, and I really appreciate my patients – they mean a lot to me,” she said.
“There are three or four families that I took care of three generations – the kids, parents and grandparents.”
Dr. Hanes was in private practice for about 31 of her 37 years in Yukon. The rest was with Integris Baptist-Yukon Pediatrics (1994-98) and Variety Care-Yukon Pediatrics (2020-21).
Dr. Hanes’ career isn’t exactly over yet.
“I love it too much,” she said of pediatrics.
She has started working part-time as a pediatrician and consultant with the Citizen Pottawatomi Nation health clinic in Shawnee.
Dr. Hanes also performs volunteer work in non-profit clinics.
Many pediatricians prefer anonymity – not living in the town where they practice.
Not Dr. Hanes, who often sees patients while shopping at the grocery store or attending church in Yukon.
“Being a pediatrician – it’s not just a job, it’s who I am,” she said. “I’ve always loved doing it.
“I love all my patients and I really appreciate them. And they’re not just my patients, they’re my friends. I have really loved watching them grow up and helping them through whatever their different struggles are.”
Dr. Hanes, whose husband is longtime attorney David Hanes, is proud to call Yukon home.
“Yukon has been a great town and I’ve loved it,” she said. “I’ve been one of Yukon’s biggest supporters.”
David and Alecia Hanes, who have been married 47 years, have three sons – Levi, Aaron and Spencer – and eight grandchildren. They attend Grace Church-Yukon.
When asked how long she planned to practice, Dr. Hanes quotes Georgia pediatrician Leila Denmark – who worked until she was 103:
“As long as I love what I’m doing, my work is play.”
A 1975 Yukon High School graduate, Hanes did her undergraduate work from 1975-78 at the University of Oklahoma before earning a medical degree in 1982 from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.
She completed her three-year residency in 1985 at OU Health’s Department of Pediatrics in Oklahoma City.
BACK TO HER HOMETOWN
After 10 years of academic and professional training, Dr. Hanes returned to her hometown in 1985 to open her first office at 300 S Ranchwood.
“I had earned the Oklahoma Rural Scholarship, which required that I go to a town with a population below 10,000,” Dr. Hanes recalled. “Yukon had about 8,000 people at the time. I knew it was a nice place because I grew up here.
“I was the only pediatrician west of Oklahoma when I came out here, so I drew a lot of patients from western Oklahoma.”
When Alecia Hanes Pediatrics opened in 1985, the office had Dr. Hanes and a receptionist.
About six months later, she added a nurse.
“It took three people to run the practice,” Dr. Hanes said. “It was very simple back then. The patient would come in, we’d treat them, give them a prescription, and hand them a slip of paper with their diagnosis. If they needed an x-ray, we wrote them another slip. And they would file their own insurance information.
“It was just the three of us for quite a while. Then I hired a part-time person to file insurance.”
A February 1987 advertisement in the Yukon Almanac for Alecia Hanes, M.D. Pediatrics was titled, “When your child needs special care.” The description below her photo read:
“She specializes in ages birth through 18, including well childcare, allergies, asthma, ear problems, diabetes, seizure disorders, and other special problems. She is well equipped to handle any pediatric problem.”
A pediatric office is much different these days, Dr. Hanes noted.
“Now it takes about four to five people for every doctor,” she explained. “You have to have a receptionist, a nurse to see the patient first, a person who files insurance, and another person getting referrals. There’s a ton more paperwork. It’s become a much different practice.”
Over the decades, Dr. Hanes and Yukon Pediatrics developed a loyal patient base across Oklahoma who came to Yukon because of the expert pediatric care.
Dr. Hanes primarily served patients at two places during her time in Yukon – 300 S Ranchwood and the Spring Creek Building, 508 W Vandament.
“In 1994, because of changes in insurance, there was a big push for private doctors to go with hospitals,” Dr. Hanes shared. “Three hospitals wanted to buy my practice and I went with Integris.”
With Integris for four years, she recruited another pediatrician and expanded her space on the second floor of the Spring Creek Building.
BACK AND FORTH
Dr. Hanes in 1998 decided to return to private practice, heading back to her original office space at 300 S Ranchwood.
When Integris Health opened Yukon’s Canadian Valley hospital in the early 2000s, the Spring Creek Building clinic space was available.
So, she came back to the second floor at 508 W Vandament.
“I had various PA’s (physician assistants) and nurse practitioners over the years,” Dr. Hanes said. “In 2018, I recruited Dr. Regina Tomichen with the plan to ‘phase’ her in to take over the practice and I wouldn’t work as much.”
Then came January 2020 when, “out of the blue,” the Yukon pediatric legend was approached by a representative from Variety Care.
“He said they had heard a lot about me, and that Variety Care was looking at getting a presence here in Canadian County,” Dr. Hanes related. “He asked if I was interested in Variety Care taking over my practice.
“Dr. Tomichen and I talked about it and decided that having Variety Care would be good for the community.”
Variety Care already had a support network with dieticians, social workers, a psychologist and more on staff.
“We felt it was a good move – with the way healthcare was going and the economy – and it was better than staying in private practice,” Dr. Hanes explained. “At the time, I had 22 employees.”
Variety Care officially acquired Yukon Pediatrics in June 2020.
Among many honors and awards, Dr. Hanes was named the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants’ Physician of the Year in 2000, Yukon’s T.J. Lowery Humanitarian Award in 2002, American Top Pediatrician Award in 2008, and Patients’ Choice Award in 2010.
She has a lifetime certificate from the American Board of Pediatrics and is a fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Memberships include the Oklahoma State Medical Association and American Medical Association.
Community service also has been important to Dr. Hanes.
She spent 17 years on the executive board of Yukon’s Compassionate Hands, served on the board of directors for the Boy Scouts and is medical director of the Canadian County Health Access Network.