By: Beau Boughamer
The Albany Herald in Georgia gave lots of space to a feature on Dr. James Hotz of Albany Area Primary Health Care — a physician who has worked with rural populations for three decades. He is also known across the health center system, of course, as a key figure in the history of the National Health Service Corps and as the inspiration for the main character in the movie Doc Hollywood.
“The idea behind the community health center model is a medical home owned by the patients you serve,” the doctor said. “You have to see people based on ability to pay. A lot of what we do is how we address the needs of the community. Unless you have quality access, all these medical breakthroughs mean nothing to you. You will be disconnected.”
In so doing, Hotz became a key figure in crafting the National Health Service Corps — which since 1972 has involved more than 30,000 clinicians with the goal of expanding access to health services and improving the health of people who live in urban and rural areas where health care is scarce. Through it all, the overall goal was to shrink the gap between the least and most fortunate in terms of access to care.
Through the Albany Area Primary Health Care system, clinics were established throughout the region. The results have been tremendous in areas such as Baker County, where residents had very few, if any, opportunities to seek medical care.
“It’s a bit of a unique model,” Hotz said. “It’s the fastest growing area of the health care delivery system. In areas that we are highly functioning, we are seeing lower death rates. We know primary health care works.”