Patel, a general surgeon, is one of seven doctors recruited to ARH in Harlan since July. An eighth specialist an orthopedic surgeon is expected soon.
ARH officials say they are rolling out the red carpet to bring more doctors and their families to Harlan County, enticing them to join the community every way they can.
Doctors considering Harlan as their next and for some, permanent place of practice are getting tours of the county, introductions to Little League coaches and conversations with teachers. They're being wowed with a small town's up-to-date facilities and equipment.
And, more than ever, they're showing up for work.
"We've had a lot of success," said hospital CEO Mike Layfield. "We're doing everything we can, every day" to recruit enough doctors to serve the needs of Harlan County, he said.
Crain Saunders, who works to recruit new doctors to the Daniel Boone Clinic, said Harlan has become more competitive for fresh talent.
"When I got here two years ago, if they had five offers, we were number four or five," Saunders said. "Now I'd say we're probably number two."
The stepped-up recruitment efforts have been helped along by an expanded, renovated hospital.
The $14 million overhaul added a new surgery center, a new primetime clinic, a new physical rehab center, a renovated emergency room, radiology lab and admissions area.
The renovations, which started in 2001, will be unveiled this spring.
"We now have a modern building and modern equipment," said Layfield. "It's attractive to doctors."
Along with the renovation, the hospital has added 11 new procedures or services.
A larger medical community is also part of Harlan's more magnetic draw for doctors.
With Harlan Medical Center opening with five new doctors, there are more colleagues for every new doctor coming to town, said Mark Bell, director of marketing for Harlan ARH.
Still, there are challenges. Competing with the amenities of big cities will always be tough for rural areas, Bell said.
Many of the doctors moving here hail from big cities like New York or Chicago, and getting them to consider the benefits of rural practice can be difficult.
On the other hand, sometimes Harlan's size is an advantage.
"That's a selling point," said Bell. "We're not the big city."
Dr. Sheila Ahmad, wife of Dr. Amir Ahmad, who runs the hospital's emergency department, said she stayed despite having several other offers because Harlan became her family's home after she moved with her husband here several years ago.
"It was different at first, but I love it," she said. "There couldn't be a better place for me."
The Ahmad's are now building a house in Harlan County, and their daughter Mareesa, 6, is a "pure thoroughbred hillbilly," she said.
Patel said he chose Harlan over other job offers because he was impressed with the hospital facilities and staff and because he found Harlan to be "a pretty town."
In a small city like Harlan, Patel said, "the pace is much less hectic."
Recruitment efforts are now directed at filling the last open spots on the hospital staff: An additional psychologist, a urologist and an oncologist are still needed.