Mercy Health Love County - News

Dr. O'Connor Named Physician of Year

Posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Tad Hall, PA, Cassie Sallee, PA, Dr. J.T. O’Connor, Jr., Kari Cochran, PA, Richard Barker, Mercy Health/Love County CEO, and Connie Barker, clinic manager, celebrate Dr. O’Connor’s award as Physician of the Year from the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants.

Dr. J.T. O’Connor, Jr., D.O., of Marietta was honored as Physician of the Year by the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants at the OAPA annual conference in Norman on Oct. 22.
The family practitioner was recognized for 30 years of service in his community and state that includes early and enduring support for the physician assistant profession.
In making the presentation, OAPA president Theresa Gavulla lauded O’Connor as a “tireless champion of the patient, educator of fellow practitioners, and selfless healer” who, in addition to his clinical duties for Mercy Health/Love County, finds time for house calls, nursing home care, and charity work.
In 1979, he and Dr. Vergil Smith of Marietta became the first physicians in southern Oklahoma to train and hire PA’s from the University of Oklahoma PA program, which started in 1970.
The relationship with the OU program has endured. Numerous student PA’s have rotated through Marietta for clinical training, and four are currently employed at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic, and EMS. The concept of the PA as “physician extender” has flourished throughout the state. OAPA has a current membership of 1,000.
 The first PA engaged locally was David del Torto, a Marietta resident, who now practices in Antlers. Another former student and 1982 hire was Tad Hall, manager of the hospital emergency department, Love County EMS, and EMS fire brigade.
PA’s Kari Cochran, Cassie Sallee, and Nathan Murray also are on staff.
Since 2005, O’Connor has served as member and chair of the Oklahoma State Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators.
Locally, he serves as medical director for Lake Country Manor, Love County Health Department, and Love County EMS.
He is a fellow of the American Osteopathic College of Occupational and Preventive Medicine.
In addition to his D.O. degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1972, O'Connor earned a master of health from OU's College of Public Health in 1992. The department named him its outstanding student.
O'Connor and his wife, Karen, moved to Love County in 1972. They raised two sons and a daughter.