Michael Bennett, Small-City Physician Who Pushed for Masks, Dies at 52

This obituary is a part of a collection about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Examine others right here.

For the previous 15 years, there have been solely two household physicians in Greenfield, Mo., a city with 1,371 residents about 40 miles northwest of Springfield. One in every of them was Dr. Michael Bennett, who opened his follow, the Greenfield Medical Heart, in 2005.

He was a vigorous proponent of sporting masks and of social distancing throughout the coronavirus pandemic, although he confronted resistance to his calls from some townspeople, and he provided free Covid-19 testing to his sufferers with funding assist from the federal C.A.R.E.S. Act.

Dr. Bennet took precautions in treating contaminated sufferers however however examined optimistic for the coronavirus in late December. He was quickly hospitalized in St. Louis and spent 50 days linked to a ventilator and an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a machine that acts as a man-made lung. He died of Covid-19 on March 6, his former wife, Teresa Bennett, said. He was 52.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, he received his medical degree from its medical school. And after finishing his residency at Cox Medical Center South in Springfield, he worked at St John’s Hospital in nearby Willard, Mo.

In addition to his medical practice, which has been shuttered, Dr. Bennett had a 500-acre farm with beef cattle, and he enjoyed fishing and hunting.

“I think one of the reasons his patients loved him is he was a good old boy,” said Ms. Bennett, who managed her former husband’s practice until 2012, when they divorced.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his son, Austin; his daughter, Shelby Bennett; his sister, Veronica Bennett; his brother, Damon; and his girlfriend, Haley Hendrixson.

Dr. Bennett worked closely with Ms. Cramer, the county official, and suggested to her last year that the town adopt a mask-wearing mandate after several Covid-related nursing home deaths. But the idea did not advance.

After learning that Dr. Bennett had tested positive for Covid-19, Ms. Cramer tried to stay in contact. In his final text to her from the hospital, on Jan. 8, he wrote: “I’m hanging in there. Will stay in touch.”

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