Posted Oct. 31, 2015 at 4:45 PM
Updated Oct 31, 2015 at 4:50 PM
When a Cherryville doctor’s office closed last week, it left residents with sorely limited options for a local family doctor.
Cherryville Primary Care closed its doors Oct. 23.
“It’s kind of caught us off guard,” said Richard Randall, director of the local Chamber of Commerce.
The city now has two family practice offices — one run by a nurse practitioner and the other that only serves members who pay monthly dues.
MDs scarce, care still there
There’s no set number of recommended doctors for a community, although a ratio of 1 doctor to 3,500 patients often indicates a shortage, said Chris Dobbins, Gaston County health director.
With a population of nearly 6,000, Cherryville is clearly in a shortage.
Patients at Cherryville Primary Care, a Carolinas HealthCare System office, received most of their medical help from a nurse practitioner. A doctor kept office hours there two days a week.
CaroMont Health still operates an office in Cherryville using a similar model. A nurse practitioner sees patients full time.
Such staffing is common and successfully meets the needs of patients, according to a spokesman with CaroMont.
The only doc in town
Dr. Tom White said he has an allegiance to Cherryville. He grew up there and returned to start a career.
White was part of a large practice in the city before taking a year off.
When he reopened an office this year, White decided to do things differently.
He founded a direct primary care practice. Patients pay dues with the guarantee of one-on-one care from their physician, White said.
White’s patient list is almost at capacity, and he doesn’t intend to change his business model.
But White said he does want to help.
He’s heading up a task force to bring doctors to town.