Mark Wendling is the kind of primary care physician all patients hope to find. It is no wonder that those who seek his care and counsel do so for much of their life! Dr. Wendling has practiced family care medicine in the Lehigh Valley for approximately 25 years. In addition, for the past six years, he has served as the Executive Director of Valley Preferred, an organization that provides innovative programs to improve health care delivery within our region. Valley Preferred also happens to be the Naming Sponsor of the BPN’s Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage for the past 16 years!
Dr. Wendling’s pathway to practicing medicine had a clear beginning. His mother was a career nurse and active volunteer for the American Cancer Society. He credits her as his initial role model. His decision to specialize in family medicine came early in his training. “I was not a ‘Lab Guy,’” he says. “I needed to interact with people, not statistics. To this day, I find joy and fulfillment in my work.”
He describes Valley Preferred as a team, not a business! The organization’s employees share an identity: One that seeks to prevent disease, focuses on patient care and concerns, and emphasizes community involvement. Those traits are undoubtedly exemplified by Valley Preferred’s leadership role in the Spirit of Courage. Dr. Wendling told me, “The Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage is one of the most important activities our organization invests in each year. It is truly a unique, one-of-a-kind event that celebrates the best of the human spirit – true everyday heroes! Our world desperately needs events like this, especially now.”
When asked who his heroes were, people who give more than they expect to receive, he thought and then shared that two came to mind. The first was his wife, Melodie. She has been a Pharmacist at Muhlenberg Hospital for the past 27 years. She naturally seeks to serve those in greatest need. His second hero is the noted author Mitch Albom. In addition to his motivational novels, Albom sponsors a foster facility in Haiti. Dr. Wendling is most moved by Albom’s belief that one needs to be challenged with deep sorrow to feel complete happiness. This inspires Dr. Wendling to serve others while dealing with his own everyday challenges.
The Burn Prevention Network is all about injury prevention. I asked Dr. Wendling what his position was on the importance of prevention in health care. He said it’s all about health care equity, giving all people an equal chance at living well. In his opinion, preventive care is the starting point for this. In his practice, prevention is a form of treatment!
In conclusion, Dr. Wendling is the very definition of a Servant Leader. Valley Preferred, the Burn Prevention Network, his patients, and all who are touched by his dedication and kindness are the beneficiaries of this gentle, caring physician.
CEO, Burn Prevention Network