The desire to effect positive change in the health care industry drove two Samaritan members, nurse practitioner Karl Lambert and Dr. Robert Berry, to leave their mainstream medical practices and venture out into the world of Direct Primary Care.
MediRedi Integrative Clinic
“I knew something had to be done to change the landscape of how medical care was delivered,” says Karl Lambert. “There were no more independent practices. I went independent when the trend and tide was very much against going independent.”
Karl worked for about 10 years in a physician-owned and -operated clinic that was becoming too corporate for him. It would eventually purchase every family practice in a 40,000-square-mile area of north central Washington. Karl left in 2006 to start MediRedi Integrative Clinic in Wenatchee, Washington.
He hired Dr. Gillian Shaw and advanced registered nurse practitioner Sarah Foerster to join him in providing a place that would provide a “wholistic and integrative approach to primary care.”
This holistic approach to care is what sets MediRedi apart from other health care providers. Karl’s goal is to prevent illness before it strikes, and he believes that every part of the person plays a role in overall health.
“We do include all aspects that make up a patient including their spiritual, psycho-social, physical, and emotional well-being,” he says.
Having the ability to text and email your doctor or nurse practitioner is significant. It often cuts down on the need for an office visit.Karl Lambert
One of his specialties is aiding women in treating the all-too-common polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Both he and Dr. Shaw are specially trained in the area of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
“It gives me great joy to see the quality of their lives improve dramatically,” Karl says.
Karl also cites communication as one of the advantages of his practice.
“Having the ability to text and email your doctor or nurse practitioner is significant,” Karl says. “Patients love this convenience, and often it cuts down on the need for an office visit. Telemedicine works very well with this model, as I have college students and others (patients) that live in other states, but they have elected to remain as part of our practice.”
Besides access to staff 24/7, 365 days a year, Karl partners with other clinics to offer low-cost, time-efficient imaging and diagnostic care. They also have freedom to work with the medical tourism industry and organizations like Surgical Center of Oklahoma and Sano Surgery when surgery is necessary. RediMedi itself offers care at two locations.
Prior to becoming a nurse practitioner and opening his practice, Karl worked as a registered nurse at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for 10 years in Seattle, Washington, after graduating from Seattle Pacific University in 1986. He later went on to earn his ARNP degree in 1997 from the University of Kentucky and became a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
Karl and his wife, Marian, live in Washington and have three children.
“I was convinced that I was part of a system that was gouging patients, my neighbors, and I figured I could provide 95 percent of the services I was providing in the ER in a high capability urgent care while also taking care of their chronic problems well enough to keep them out of the hospital,” Dr. Robert Berry says.
Dr. Berry’s desire was to provide care for the “undesirable population,” those without insurance. To that end, he opened PATMOS (Paid at The Moment Of Service) Emergiclinic. For 18 years he ran the only insurance-free, fee-for-service practice in northeast Tennessee until he switched over to the Direct Primary Care model just this year, renaming PATMOS to DirectMD Greeneville. His prices, often one-fifth to one-half of those of other practices, are listed on billboards, in brochures, and on signage right in front of their office.
“Since the uninsured have few options, we have provided services most other primary care practices don’t, such as IV therapy for dehydration and mild diabetic keto-acidosis, suturing complex lacerations such as chain saw wounds, and providing the only care for patients with rheumatology disorders until they can obtain insurance through disability,” Dr. Berry says.
Not signing insurance contracts enables us to operate with three fewer employees per physician and one-third of the overhead.Dr. Robert Berry
The low monthly membership fee includes chronic disease management, urgent and preventive care, annual adult physicals, and coordination with specialists and hospitalists if needed.
“We can do this, of course, because not signing insurance contracts enables us to operate with three fewer employees per physician and one-third of the overhead,” Dr. Berry says.
Affordable health care for the uninsured hasn’t been Dr. Berry’s only goal. Doctors often explore the DPC model because it allows them to avoid onerous government regulations and paperwork, which results in them being able to give patients more time and personalized care.
According to the DirectMD website, “We don’t allow the insurance/hospital/government/large medical group cartel to enter our exam rooms, and they are not a part of our overhead. Because of this, we are probably the most personal, simple, transparent, and cost-effective primary care medical practice in this area.”
Dr. Berry is board certified in internal medicine and was formerly board certified in emergency medicine. He earned his medical degree in 1989 from the University of North Carolina and completed his residency program in primary care internal medicine from the University of Alabama in 1992. He works with Russell Perry, a board-certified internist who joined the practice part time last June.
Dr. Berry and his wife, Blair, have two daughters and live in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Editor’s Note: This article is not an endorsement of a particular medical provider. Members are free to choose their own providers.
Members may be able to have some of their Direct Primary Care membership fees shared when they are receiving treatment for an illness or injury. Contact Member Services for more information and see the “Direct Primary Care” item in Section VIII.B of the ministry Guidelines.