March 11, 2014

Dalton pushes forward on health care

Left and right. Liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian. Everyone agrees that the current health care system could be better. The only disagreement is how to make it better.

We believe that relying more on the free market than central planning, more on individuals than big bureaucracies, more on incremental approaches than on grand schemes is the way to better health care.

And that’s why we are glad to see some of that sort of experimentation taking place right here in Dalton.

Take internist Dr. Stephen Carson. He’s the first, but we suspect not the last, Dalton doctor to adopt a concierge, or personalized, practice. Concierge medicine is a relatively new approach to medicine, but it has already been adopted by primary care physicians across the country. But while the particulars of concierge medicine are new in many ways it is a return to traditional practices.

Carson sees a limited number of patients (600), people willing to pay more for an enhanced level of service. And he’s on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“They have my cell number. They can contact me by email, or my answering service,” he said.

Carson says that patients generally can schedule appointments on the same day or the next day they call.

People want that sort of personal attention from their doctors. But Carson isn’t the only person in Dalton moving toward new ways to deliver health care.

Last fall, Shaw Industries opened the Shaw Family Health Center for its employees and their dependents. A full service clinic, the health center offers everything from routine physicals and immunizations to lab work and wellness screenings.

And of course, over the past two decades the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership has pioneered a number of innovative projects to improve health and health care in this area, including helping to bring the Partnership Health Center to the Mack Gaston Community Center in Dalton two years ago.

Dalton can be proud that it is a center of innovation in health care.

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