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Friday, January 30, 2009

Dr. Ellert Rules!

A family medicine "man for all seasons" and a "physician's physician." Those are the words his medical colleagues use when referring to William Ellert, M.D. But to the homeless people on the streets of Phoenix, he is a compassionate and high-quality caregiver. It is all of those qualities, however, that got Dr. Ellert selected as the 2009 American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Family Physician of the Year.

The 2009 Family Physician of the Year, William Ellert, M.D., of Phoenix, is a passionate educator and advocate for the homeless. A strong advocate for the homeless, this former Franciscan brother provides care for as many as possible of the 13,000 homeless men and women living on the streets and in the desert valleys around Phoenix.

Ellert grew up in Avilla, Ind., a small town in the rural Midwest. "In … Avilla, there weren't a lot of homeless people," says Ellert. "My family was very fortunate, and we traveled a lot. Seeing homeless people and recognizing their life was much in contrast to the life that I was blessed with was something that always pulled at my heart strings."

Ellert got his start in health care at age 16 when he worked as an orderly in a nursing home in Avilla that was operated by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart. He was so impressed by their kindness and compassion, as well as their personal approach to health care, that he joined the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular two years later and found his vocation and his mission with the homeless.

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