Dr. George Mulder sits inside an examination room at the Social Welfare Board. He's the only civil surgeon inside St. Joseph.

Refugees in the area and immigrants trying to obtain their U.S. citizenship no longer have to travel to Kansas City to receive a physical, because Dr. George Mulder has been given Homeland Security’s stamp of approval.

He’s the new civil surgeon in St. Joseph.

“We’re all immigrants unless we’re Native Americans,” Mulder said. “My relatives all came from the Netherlands, in the 1800s ... it’s kind of fun to see other people doing the same thing now coming from other parts of the world.”

Among other things, the physicals check for diseases that aren’t typically present in the country.

The purpose is “to make sure that those (diseases) don’t become a risk for them or for the people that they meet here in the United States,” Mulder said.

The process for Mulder to gain the civil surgeon status began a year ago.

Social Welfare Board Executive Director Linda Judah submitted an application, but there were some hiccups because of the government shutdown at the time, and initially the application was denied.

“I just redid the whole application and it went through in maybe three weeks — they didn’t even notify us,” Judah said. “People were calling us because they saw that we were an approved site.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services even returned the original application fee, which was more than $700.

“Folks seeking the physical will go through InterServ to get the appointment established, and then they’ll bring an interpreter with them,” Judah said.

Mosaic Life Care also will be part of the initiative.

The Social Welfare Board welcomed Mulder to the team three years ago. Prior to that, he was a general surgeon. Mulder has been a physician for 40 years. He went to school at the University of Michigan and the University of Missouri.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached


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