Though he hasn't lived in the community since graduating from Detroit Lakes High School in 2008, Dr. Max Disse has disproven Thomas Wolfe's famous adage that "you can't go home again," by returning to town to accept a position with Sanford Health's local Dermatology and Laser Clinic.

"It's been a long time coming," says Disse, who moved back to his hometown in June, along with wife Carolyn and their three young children: Mae, 4, Etta, 2, and David, 1.

Though Disse readily admits he and Carolyn — who also grew up in Detroit Lakes — are happy to be back in familiar surroundings, it wasn't specifically in their plans to return home after moving out east to Pennsylvania four years ago, so he could complete his residency at Penn State Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.

"We knew we wanted to come back to Minnesota, but not necessarily to Detroit Lakes," he said. "But what solidified it was the move to Pennsylvania — we realized we wanted to be back around family again.

So when Disse had completed his residency this past spring, and the opening at Detroit Lakes' Sanford Health clinic opened up not long thereafter, he went for it — and was promptly hired for the job.

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"I already knew a lot of the doctors here, and it just seemed like the right fit," he said, adding that it's difficult for residents of rural communities to find specialty services like dermatology that are being offered locally. "That's one of the main reasons I was wanting to come back here."

"We're excited that he's joining the Sanford family," said Breanna Adams, director of clinic operations at Sanford Health in Detroit Lakes.

Though she noted that the advent of COVID-19 had put a bit of a damper on their plans to immediately set up Disse in Sanford-Detroit Lakes' new Dermatology and Laser Clinic — construction on the facility is slated to begin on Sept. 1, instead of in April as was originally scheduled, and it won't be completed until spring 2021 — Adams said that he will temporarily be working out of an office in Sanford's family medicine department.

Disse said that he will be providing a full range of services in Detroit Lakes, including treatment for everything from acne, psoriasis and eczema to the various types of skin cancer, as well as botox injections and minor cosmetic surgery.

"I'll mainly be working in Detroit Lakes, with some outreach in Perham and Fargo," Disse said, adding that his schedule will currently put him in Perham every other Tuesday, and Fargo every other Friday, with his remaining weekdays being spent working in Detroit Lakes.

Dr. Thomas Matzke and physician's assistant Stephanie Murphy, who had been providing dermatology services at Sanford's Detroit Lakes clinic on an outreach basis, will be transitioning back to working at Sanford's Fargo facilities once Disse begins seeing patients in Detroit Lakes on Sept. 8, Adams said.

She added that his services are already much in demand. "He hasn't even started his schedule here and he's booked into October," she said.