This article is part of our annual Homecoming Weekend focus on celebrating alumni stories. Read about past award winners and alumni stories here.
Eastern Mennonite School will recognize and celebrate Dr. Justin Weirch ‘06 during Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 15-16, 2021.
Like countless other health care professionals, Weirich was among those who went the “extra mile” to serve clients during the height of a COVID-19 outbreak last year. A family medicine practitioner at Lutheran Health Physicians in Fort Wayne, Ind., Weirich and his colleagues observed a lack of sufficient COVID testing capacity in local facilities as pandemic numbers swelled in late 2020.
The worst months were late October through mid December,” he recalls. “Positive cases were rising exponentially in Michigan, and the clinics in nearby Fort Wayne just couldn’t do it all.” To keep those patients from overwhelming hospital emergency services, Weirich and colleagues volunteered days off to staff a COVID specialized clinic.
“It was a challenge,” he recalls. “There was a shortage of healthcare professionals as people quarantined and cared for their family needs. But telemedicine has really grown into a valuable tool that continues to be regularly utilized today. This helped us keep up with our regular clients as well as in-person COVID clinic patients.”
As a child, Justin watched his father, Gordon Weirich, MD, who has practiced family medicine for more than 40 years in Weyers Cave, Va. “Dad modeled generosity and empathy,” Justin remembers. “I always knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Those characteristics have led Dr. Weirch to take part in multiple surgical and medical mission trips to the Philippines, Honduras and Bolivia, in addition to serving his local community.
“Justin is both knowledgeable and competent, but it is his extraordinary people skills that truly set him apart,” wrote a colleague on Dr. Weirich’s LinkedIn page. “…Medicine is very difficult, and perhaps more so for someone who empathizes so deeply with those who suffer. But Justin’s relentless enthusiasm for life energizes all that he does and all those around him as well. It is a true privilege to be his colleague and his friend.”
Classmate Daniel Kauffman nominated Dr. Weirich’s in a similar vein, writing, “Justin is a hard-working doctor who has fully utilized the talents God has blessed him with. He has sacrificed his free time and risked the health of his family in order to help the sick and others in need during this difficult time.”
Weirich graduated from EMHS in 2006, where he sang in Touring Choir, and played basketball and soccer, with the boys varsity soccer team winning the Division I state title his senior year, a special memory. “I do call those my golden days!,” he notes with a laugh. “But really EMHS was truly a gift for me, and I would never replace those years.”
Weirich went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Mary Washington and worked pre- and post-operative care at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg. He earned his medical degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2016, followed by a residency in family medicine at Fort Wayne Medical Education Program.
In his practice, Dr. Weirich, is a primary care physician which allows him to get to know his patients’ stories, see them over time, help to manage chronic illness, and focus on preventive care. He cares for men, women and children of all ages and also treats various acute illnesses.
In 2019, he was part of a four-person team recognized by the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians for outstanding family medicine research projects from across the state. Weirich’s team’s research focused on Medicare annual wellness visit quality improvement.
Justin is married to Sarah (Beck) Weirich and has two young children.
See a short video of Justin talking about his patient care philosophy.