New optometrist eyes Rugby
A native of Garrison, Dr. Leslie Hellebush grew up loving small-town life.
She believes practicing optometry in Rugby will bring her back to those roots.
Hellebush will start practicing late this summer in Rugby, along with Dr. Elena Raducu, who has been seeing patients in Rugby since late last year.
“I grew up in Garrison and graduated from high school there in 2005,” said Hellebush. “I loved the town. I do enjoy small towns.”
After receiving her bachelor’s degree of science in biology from Jamestown College, Hellebush studied optometry at Pacific University in Oregon.
She is excited to get into the Rugby community, which she remembers from high school before starting to try to find housing in the area.
“We went there in high school for track meets,” she said. “The people were friendly and it was very clean. It’s a very active community.”
Hellebush stays active herself, playing softball and volleyball after a high school career that included both sports and band and choir.
She also has a basset hound that she enjoys spending time with.
“I like being outside and hiking and biking,” she said.
Hellebush is ready to join the workforce after recently completing her training.
“All I know right now is going to school,” she said. “My colleagues have all talked to me about what I’ll see at the clinic. They’re making the transition super easy on me.”
She first became interested in optometry when she realized how interconnected the eyes are to other parts of the body.
“When I was 12, my mom went to the local optometrist,” she said. “(The trip) led to her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. That opened me up to the medical side of optometry. That’s what I wanted to do.”
Dr. Raducu, originally from Romania, has been seeing patients in Rugby for more than six months.
She travels from Bismarck three Mondays a month to take appointments.
“I think the community is wonderful,” Raducu said. “It’s full of very nice people. They’re really kind. They really welcomed me. Now I’ve met most of my patients.”
She studied in Europe and completed a residency in the United States before moving to Bismarck in 2012.
Family is important to Raducu, and like Hellebush, she enjoys the outdoors.
“I like being outdoors and I think summers in North Dakota allow you to do that,” she said. “Right now most of my time is spent with my 3-year-old boy.”
She said she has continued to work on eye conditions that are prevalent in North Dakotans and continue to help people maintain good eyesight.
“You want to keep it and improve it if possible,” she said. “Macular degeneration is prevalent in Scandinavians. We have a lot of injections (popularized in the past 6-7 years) that have helped the condition.”
The two women plan on working together to treat the eyes of local patients.
“When I’m going to be (in Rugby), (Dr. Hellebush) is going to be here in Bismarck trying to shadow some of the doctors and try to learn,” Raducu said. “I’m going to be more than happy to help her. She’s relatively young and just started. It’s going to take some time to get used to everything. But she’s a very bright lady, I’m sure it’s going to be a matter of months.”