Once upon a time (so I'm told), doctors not only worked out of their homes but made house calls. The doctors knew everyone in town, especially the younger people since they helped deliver them. If you were short on money, a basket of eggs or some homemade bread worked as payment until you were flush again.
I'm not entirely sure when this ceased to be, but now insurance companies and lawyers have gotten into the middle of the doctor-patient relationship. I was informed of my PCP's resignation for family reasons via form letter, but at least that was better than finding out by accident my health insurance changed my dental insurance without telling me.
The following two stories reminded me the conceit of small town doctoring is still out there, whether you are in the big city or the country.
CNN profiled the Moore family in Lexington, Ky. Like their philanthropic father before them, three of the Moore brothers are doctors and provide free outpatient surgical care for the uninsured on the third Sunday of every month. The Moore brothers have treated over 3100 people since starting their free services in 2005. On an average Sunday, they care for 25-30 patients with the help of volunteer doctors and nurses.
Dan Ivankovich is the Lone Ranger of service-oriented docs. The seven foot-tall, blues-playing, head-to-toe leather-wearing Chicagoan orthopedic surgeon does over 800 surgeries a year, nearly all for patients living below the poverty line. One of his quotes from this CBS News video sums it up perfectly - "You see a child that's crippled. You see a 50 year-old in wheelchair, and I can fix it. Why wouldn't I?"
(Photo courtesy of CBS News)