Father and physician’s pride and joy

Dr. Robert Good and daughter Kara Painton practice medicine togetherFrom the moment Kara Painton, APN, was born, she seemed destined to be close to her father.

That’s because he delivered her.

Robert Good, DO, admits the situation was unique. As a father, he never anticipated delivering one of his own children. As a family medicine physician then, though, he knew he could handle the delivery.

“When I took my wife to the hospital it was 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning,” he recalled. “Since Kara was our third child, we knew the process and made it to the hospital in time. But in her bed, Brenda suddenly looked up at me and said, ‘She’s coming.’

“I delivered the baby, and, of course, surprised the nursing staff. But by the time the attending physician got there, I pretty well had the cord cut, the baby warmed, and everything was fine.”

Now 34 years later, their memories are wider in scope.

Kara Painton has three of her own children with husband Christopher. And for the last decade, as a nurse practitioner in Mattoon, she’s shared an office with her father.

“This may sound silly, but so much of what I do comes down to one thing. I just hope to make him proud,” she said.

Dr. Good sat back in his chair and said one thing.

“Well, she certainly has done that.”

Here’s how.

Finding the right note

When Dr. Good thinks of his daughter, he first remembers an intelligent, caring and somewhat shy kid.

The youngest of three, Painton instinctively took to music in junior high. Not only did she want to play an instrument, she wanted to learn everything about it.

So, father and daughter teamed up on a science project.

“We researched how lung volumes varied between the woodwind, brass and percussion sections of the band,” Dr. Good said. “She found a statistical difference among the groups, but we also found a common interest we could work on together.

“We still do things like that.”

When the skilled trumpet player asked for a Bach Stradivarius, her father cut a deal.

“To pay for that instrument, she had to give me lessons,” Dr. Good said. “I had never played the trumpet before, so when she finished taking professional lessons, she would come back and teach me.

“I wouldn’t say I was good, but I definitely got better – and she was a great teacher.

Dr. Good believes this was one of the first times he began to realize the type of person his daughter was growing into.

Nursing an interest

Painton’s interest in medicine didn’t develop until college. Again, she credited her dad with sparking the thought.

When the two attended orientation at Valparaiso University, she was looking at everything she could related to biology. Dr. Good, meanwhile, found the nursing table and a representative he could strike up a conversation with.

“Kara came by the table to tell me she finished for the day, and the nursing professor told her she should go into nursing,” he said. “She said, ‘Yeah, but I play the trumpet, too, and want to be in the band.’ A young nursing student at the table heard her, and told Kara, ‘Well, I’m in the band, and I’m in nursing.’”

They spoke all the way home about the realities of the healthcare field.

After his daughter earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in nursing, Dr. Good blinked and Painton was back at Valparaiso. She received her doctorate in nursing while nine months pregnant with her first child.

“I’m a proud father, but she also paved her own way,” Dr. Good said.

Delivering care together

Before she began working on her doctorate, Painton lived briefly with her sister in Chicago – drawn to the high-rise location overlooking Lake Michigan and the possibility of working in the city.

However, she found potential employers asking for experience she didn’t have.

One person was willing to take a chance on her for his office 200 miles south in Mattoon.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to move back this way after getting a taste of Chicago, but I’m so glad now that he suggested this change,” Painton said before tearing up a little. “It has just been such a cool experience to have this connection and this bond after working with my dad for 10 years.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better, and I wouldn’t have found anything better if I had gone somewhere else.”

She credits her dad with passing down an unequaled knowledge base about their patients.

And he credits her with the attributes that set healthcare providers apart in his mind; the ability to understand limitations and to always make decisions with the patient's best interest at heart.

He also sees a truly dedicated nurse.

“A number of things make me proud of Kara from working with her,” Dr. Good said. “Her clinical expertise, her caring mentality and the relationships she builds with our patients among them.

“Working with her has been amazing.”

New common ground

After 10 years working together, the 11th will be the first apart.

With a more active role in administration, Dr. Good will occupy his Urbana office more. Of course, they will see each other often for family reasons in Mattoon.

“That’s the joke,” Painton said. “After 10 years working alongside each other, we still choose to talk to each other.”

Beyond the professional, Dr. Good takes pride in the way his daughter and her husband care for their children. And he doesn’t hesitate to point to the pictures in his office of his family, which now includes nine grandchildren.

Painton reciprocates when it comes to her mentor’s ability as a father and a physician.

“My father has a good heart,” she said. “More than anything, he means well for everyone he comes in contact with. I think he was meant to be in medicine and he was meant to be a dad.

“He would drop anything to be there for his family or his patients.”