Patients, colleagues share impact of missing Fox Valley doctor
FREEDOM - Two years ago, Jan Rutten met Dr. Jeffrey Whiteside for the first time. He diagnosed her with lung cancer.
“If it wasn't for Dr. Whiteside, I wouldn't be sitting right here with you right now,” said Rutten. “He literally saved my life.”
Rutten isn't alone. Dozens of people have been commenting on the Door County Sheriff Department's Facebook page. Some saying Whiteside saved their life, others who've worked with him, or have been his patient for decades. All are sad and worried to hear the Fox Valley doctor is missing.
Whiteside, 63, was last seen June 29th near his boat in Ephraim. His wife reported him missing July 1. Door County Sheriff’s investigators say they aren’t sure where Whiteside could be.
“It crushed me,” said Rutten of when she learned Whiteside was missing. “I was by myself and I broke down crying and I immediately said a prayer, because I'm not done with him. I need him yet. He's got a lot of patients that need him and maybe I'm selfish for saying I need him, but hey, I need him yet.”
Whiteside has been a pulmonologist in the Fox Cities for 30 years. He used to be the president of the ThedaCare Hospital Medical Staff. He is in his third term on the ThedaCare Board of Trustees.
In a statement, hospital spokesperson Megan Mulholland wrote, "Thousands of employees worked and work with him and the same number of patients have been helped by him. He has never stopped caring and developed several long-term relationships with those patients.”
“Other people can say oh there is other pulmonary doctors out there,” said Rutten. “No. This guy is amazing, and like I said, I owe my life to him.”
Patients like Rutten are still holding out hope, praying their doctor will turn up safe.
“I will see him October 30th, that's my next date with him and I will see him,” said Rutten. “I feel confident I will.”
Police dogs will be searching the Ephraim area Friday. Authorities say they are leaving open all possibilities for what might have happened to Whiteside.