Photo courtesy of Terri Clark.

Why Wheeling: Dr. Kim Wiley

With 25+ years of experience as a colorectal surgeon practicing in Wheeling, Dr. Kim Wiley has built
relationships with folks across the Ohio Valley. You may know him from his practice in East Wheeling,
where he treats patients. You might otherwise know him affectionately as “coach” from his many roles
coaching middle school sports in the community.

Hailing from St. Albans, West Virginia, and an alumnus of West Virginia University, Dr. Wiley currently lives, practices, and contributes to the Wheeling community in myriad ways. Weelunk had the privilege of sitting down with Dr.Wiley to learn what led him to choose Wheeling and what he loves most about being part of this community.

Why Wheeling? A Shared Identity

Among the fun facts we learned about Dr. Wiley is that he is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Interestingly, many reading this article likely pledge allegiance to Steelers Nation. Some may argue that Wheeling is a microcosm of the broader Pittsburgh culture. Dr. Wiley believed so.

“I’m a huge Steelers fan. So, I actually looked at jobs in Pittsburgh. And I was just kind of getting out of
my training. The jobs were really looking for someone that was a little more experienced but said to keep them in mind. And then I saw that there was a job in Wheeling.”

Community is much more than a group of people living in one place. It is a feeling of fellowship, a shared sense of belonging. Sports are just one of the things that contribute to a community’s shared identity. But, alas, loyalty to the Black and Gold was far from the only characteristic that attracted Dr. Wiley to Wheeling over twenty years ago. He saw a place where fans and foes come together to create a valuable family community.

It’s All in the Family

In June 2023, Fortune Well ranked Wheeling, WV as the #33 best city in a list ranking the top 50 family-friendly cities in the U.S. The Friendly City came in ahead of popular cities like Omaha, NE and Denver, CO in the ratings. But long before Wheeling was touting this accolade, Dr. Wiley saw value in all the city offered for families. Beyond remaining loyal to Steelers Nation, what ultimately inspired him to choose Wheeling was the prospect of raising his family here.

“I knew eventually, I wanted to have a family and where I was living was a busy area in New Jersey and just not ideal, at least in my mind… And then I came back, and I started working here. I thought I’d spend five years there and now it’s 23 years later”.

Thinking about all the time spent here caused Dr. Wiley to light up in gratitude. Another of the most
interesting reasons he values having chosen Wheeling for his career and for his own family is the broader sense of belonging you get to experience as part of this community. He spoke about this in the way one might speak about their extended family, with compassion and delight.

“In a big city, you could be sitting next to someone, never know them, never care about them.
Something could happen right next to you and people just look the other way. Here, you probably know the person that’s standing by you, or you know someone who knows them. And so, when I say family, it’s not just your immediate family but more of a community-type family.”

This sense of belonging has extended to Dr. Wiley’s practice, offering greater benefit for him to connect
more deeply with his patients.

“The first thing we’re talking about when a patient comes in, especially if I’ve seen them and known them, is what they’re doing and what I’m doing here. They’re asking about my family. I may be asking about their garden or what’s happening with their dad or with their kids. We talk, we talk sports, we talk weather, we talk about things that just happened in the community like about new businesses coming in. It’s more like we’re on a friend basis, even though it’s a doctor-patient relationship.”

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Building friendships and lasting relationships that extend beyond the traditional doctor/patient dynamic
has been a cornerstone of Dr. Wiley’s career in Wheeling. In addition to feeling closely connected to his patients in the tight-knit culture of the local community, Dr. Wiley also gave a nod to the accessibility of youth programs offered.

Got it, Coach

For many years, Dr. Wiley has served as a volunteer coach for youth sports like football, baseball,
basketball, and wrestling. He is currently coaching football for Wheeling Park Blue and basketball for
Triadelphia Middle School. When asked why he extends himself to give back in this way, despite leading
a challenging career, he lamented:

“I grew up with six brothers and all of us were involved in in sports. All of my brothers played all of the
sports. The only sport that they did that I didn’t was wrestling. We all did sports. 365. And so, I have
always been interested in sports and my son got interested in it. I mean certainly that renewed my interest in coaching and then after my son moved on, I just continued to coach the youth.”

Another key benefit to living and raising a family locally, according to Dr. Wiley, is that because this is a
tight-knit place, folks have more access to things like youth programming and transportation.

“I think that the availability of activities for the kids are great, and more so than when I where I grew up. My nieces and nephews live in larger cities. And I can tell you, despite those larger cities, they did not have the available activities that the kids have here.”

Dr. Wiley certainly has a point about the programming and activities that are available, including outside
of the public school system. One need not look far to find a range of activities for kids through local
organizations like the Wheeling YMCA, the North Wheeling Community Youth Center, the Ohio County
Public Library, the Highlands Sports Complex, Wheeling Park, Oglebay and many more.

It Takes a Village

Dr. Wiley also made an interesting point about the accessibility of these programs because of the
kindness and camaraderie experienced in the community.

“The other thing is that in these larger cities, they may have several of these activities available, but they’re not accessible, it can be costly. Here, you’ve got availability of transportation, because usually, if you have someone who wants to go somewhere, even if ycan’tn’t get them, there’s someone else. Again, it goes back to that sense of family.”

For anyone raising a family, you know that it takes a village to keep it all together. Dr. Wiley most certainly did not take for granted that the people in the Friendly City make that village work.

Amid all that is happening locally today, including frustrations with the streetscaping project and
uncertainty around local elections, it can be easy to forget how great it is to be part of this community.
Many thanks to Dr. Wiley for reminding us that connection is the root of community. Showing up for your neighbors matters and talking with one another is the means to building a better community together.

• Sarah Clark works full-time at an international law firm. A Wheeling resident, she earned her bachelor’s from Ohio University and her master’s in Communication Studies from Ball State University, where she developed her passion for storytelling and skills in project management. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her Dalmatian, Anakin Skywalker, and dabbling in all things poetry and performance.