Physician technology to assist with ultrasound procedures.
Physician technology to assist with ultrasound procedures.

CV prep

History of healing

Table of Contents

Such outdoorsy settings drew John Carmack, a 39-year-old family practice physician, to the area for his residency in 1989. His choice for practice was a simple matter of pros and cons. The high school football player whose orthopaedic injuries spurred him to study medicine in the first place grabbed a sheet of paper and listed everything he wanted in life: a town with population between 50,000
and 100,000, mountains, a group/hospital practice that also worked with sports and colleges … Carmack put the pen down. He was already there. He stayed to join the 20+ physicians at Central Virginia Family Physicians and says he’s never regretted the decision. Today he lives out his dream with a wife and two children on a farm complete with dogs, cats, and horses.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I’d rate Lynchburg a 10 as a good place to practice,” Carmack says. “Most of the doctors are younger and well respected in their chosen fields. I’d stack our medical community with any other in the nation and we’d be hard to beat!” The low cost of living excites Carmack as well: Mini-farms with four bedrooms, four fireplaces and 21 acres list for $195,00; $259,00 buys you a custom brick ranch with 12-foot ceilings, marble hearth fireplaces, hardwood floors and 3.4 acres; $399,000 fetches the quintessential Southern mansion complete with bay windows, pillars, verandas and water gardens. Overall the cost of living index reported by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association for the first quarter of 1998 shows Lynchburg’s housing costs fall at 99.1 percent of the national average—cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Boston score well above the 100 mark. For that matter, Lynchburg weighs in below the national average in groceries, utilities, transportation, and health-care costs as well.

Cultural events include Lynchburg’s own volunteer symphony orchestra performing Beethoven’s
Symphony #6, Tschaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Suite, and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2.
The Jefferson Choral Society, the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center, Ellington Fellowship Playhouse, Cherry Tree Players, and the Regional Ballet Theatre round out the scene for performances and
dance. Those wishing to take in performances at the Kennedy Center drive 3 1/2 hours to Washington, DC. “If it’s a matinee, we drive back the same day,” Thompson says.

Such a lifestyle pulls many physicians to settle in this region, notes the medical society’s Mary Ann
Tucker—yet there’s plenty of room for more.

Medical needs

Ask anyone associated with Lynchburg’s medical profession to describe the market and all answer
in one voice: competitive. Tucker says the city is always on the look-out for primary-care physicians, including internists, family practitioners, and pediatricians, thanks in part to the number of doctors retiring this decade. In fact, the Sullivans joined their group practice just a year after another pediatrician jumped aboard—less than 24 months later, F. Read Hopkins has extended the welcome
mat to yet another primarycare doctor, bringing the total there to more than 20.

Specialists are seeing the same patient activity levels. Family practice physicians’ sons and daughters, fresh out of medical school, are returning to their roots to practice ob/gyn, urology, and psychiatry according to the medical society’s membership rolls.

The steady patient supply can be credited to the Region 2000 project, a public/private partnership the Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce formed to promote regional economic development in the mid-’80s. By rolling together the counties of Amherst, Bedford, and Appomattox, and the cities of
Altavista and Bedford with Lynchburg to form a tight metro area, surrounding areas naturally look to that center as their hub. The Sullivans have patients who drive between 90 and 120 minutes for appointments in their office.

And what’s good for physician practices is also good for hospital expansion. Virginia Baptist recently
renovated and expanded its medical oncology unit to provide chemotherapy and specialized care. A new radiation oncology center offers up-todate technology, including a linear accelerator. It has also added The Assessment Center to the mental health services department, and free referrals for people troubled with personal work, marital, or family problems. In addition, a $15.5 million construction project will add a dozen new LDR rooms and an ambulatory surgery center, as well as renovate the intensive care nurseries.

The hammer and nails balance Lynchburg General’s extension, begun in 1990, that expanded its emergency, radiology, and dietary departments. In addition, The Stroobants Heart Center of Virginia, a 180,000-square-foot cardiac center, opened in 1994 thanks to a staggering financial gift from local industrialist and cattle breeder Alphonse Stroobants. After his doctor diagnosed severe blockages in his coronary arteries in June 1992, Stroobants experienced medical care in Lynchburg first-hand. He relates his story on the hospital’s Web page: “I had the means to go anywhere in
the world, but I chose to stay here because the cardiac team in Lynchburg has such an excellent, well-deserved reputation.”

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Julie Sturgeon

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