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Country Doctors bring personal touch to family medicine practice in Masontown

MASONTOWN — The Mays weren’t always doctors. Albert used to work construction, and when their children were little they were clowns known as Pockets and Pounds.

Now, Albert and his wife Vicky are doctors of osteopathic medicine, specializing in family medicine. Their Country Doctors Family Practice is on Burke Road in Masontown. They also make home visits to medically homebound patients.

“I started my career as a nurse’s aide,” Vicky said. “Back then, if you got something on your uniform it was a badge of honor.”
She said the doctor would come in, put his cigarette on the nurses station, and check his patient files. Neither he nor the nurses wore gloves.

Vicky said changes have made it almost impossible to spend as much time with a patient as doctors did in the past.

“Now we write a book on our patients. The information is needed for statistics, insurance and for other doctors,” she said. “Doctors are so busy trying to get stuff done, they don’t have time to focus on patients the way the used to.”

“That’s why were independent doctors,” Albert said. “It’s what we chose. People think being a physician makes you wealthy. It doesn’t. We try to make a living, not become rich.”

He said doctors have to pay a fee to sign up with new insurance companies. This allows them to bill for patient treatment. If the physician isn’t signed up with the company, he or she can’t bill the insurance company for services.

Doctors must also keep up with drug formularies. A formulary is a list of generic and brand name prescription drugs covered by health plans. A patient’s health plan may only help pay for drugs listed on its formulary.

“The insurance companies update their formulary every three months,” Vicky said. “So the medicine we prescribed three months ago might not be covered (by insurance) now.”

Albert said it is getting to a point where doctors spend more time doing paperwork, or on hold on the telephone than they do spending time with their patients.
“I remember when they (newspapers) used to publish the names of people who were in the hospital,” Vicky said. “The patient would get cards and flowers. Now I have had patients say they don’t know why their family hasn’t called. We’ve lost that community support.”

She said she and her husband value the relationship they have with their community and knowing they are helping keep people well.

“Whether our patients live in a mansion or in a hovel, the question is how can we help them?” Vicky said. “We had a patient that was heating with a broken wood stove. Someone had to stay up all night to watch it. We couldn’t tell anyone they needed help.

“My vision is to be more aware of what our patients need,” she said. “You walk into a home and you see the lack of food, lack of heat or water and know they don’t have the support to try to get food. You have to educate them on their level.”

“Patients will tell you they have everything they need. Then, you go to their home,” Albert said. “And you see they must make a choice — Do I get my medicine or do I feed my family?”

Country Doctors Family Practice is accepting new patients. It’s open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and on call Saturday and Sunday. Call 304-864-4362 for an appointment.

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