by Len Lear
I had my basic annual blood test analysis checkup last week at the Mt. Airy Family Practice (MAFP) at Carpenter Lane and Wayne Avenue, where we have been going for decades. But this time was different, The front door was locked, although I was right on time for my appointment. An office aide came to the door and asked several questions before she opened the door, and there was only one other patient seated in the downtown waiting room — highly unusual. When I was told to go to the second floor waiting room, again there was only one other patient.
“We have had to make quite a few changes because of Covid-19,” explained Dr. David Lewis, 51, who has been one of the partners in the practice since July of 2001 after a residency in family medicine at Chestnut Hill Hospital (CHH) starting in 1998. “We try to keep the number of patients down in the waiting rooms with proper social distancing. About half of the visits now are video visits conducted by our providers, and we recommend a video or phone visit whenever possible. We urge everyone to follow the CDC guidelines to avoid exposure … Don’t let politics determine what you should do. Science should do that.”
Dr. Lewis, a native of Muskegeon, Michigan, graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. He has trained students from Temple University School of Medicine, and he has a special interest in dermatology. He came to Philadelphia for a residency at Thomas Jefferson Hospital but “did not like the program,” so he switched to Chestnut Hill Hospital, where he found the program much more compatible. In fact, even after joining MAFP, he kept going back to CHH one day a week until 2010 to supervise medical residents.
Mt Airy Family Practice was started by Dr, Linda Good, a former nurse who entered medical school in her 30s, in 1989. When Dr. Good retired in 2015, she said, “I am so grateful to have served such wonderful patients and been meaningfully involved in the lives of so many families. It has been a joy and privilege to be a family physician in Mt. Airy.” (Dr. Good un-retired in 2016 and is now treating many Covid-19 patients at a medical facility in Roxborough.)
MAFP now has about 7800 patients, of whom about 3000 are patients of Dr. Lewis. “Most come once or twice a year,” he said. “Dr. Lyons has more because he has been here longer, so he’s had patients for longer. As patients age, they begin to have conditions like diabetes and hypertension and are seen more often, every 3 to 4 months instead of once a year.”
According to Dr. Lewis, “We have hundreds of positive Covid-19 patients here, mild to moderate that can be managed at home. Really sick patients we would send to the hospital, but our role is to keep them out of the hospital and educate them. Or get testing. Some tests are not the best, and it is too hard to obtain them. And 25 to 35 percent of patients who are positive will test negative.”
One controversial issue that Dr. Lewis feels very strongly about is the single-payer system, which he favors, vs. the fee-for-service system, which the U.S. is alone in the industrialized world in maintaining. “Our current health care system is a travesty,” he insisted. “We are the wealthiest country in the world, so it is ridiculous that everyone cannot have access to good health care, at least the basic minimum care. It is just wrong.”
Many local medical professionals agree with Dr. Lewis on this crucial issue. According to Dr. David Becker, a board-certified cardiologist with Chestnut Hill Temple Cardiology in Flourtown, “The idea that medicine is a business does not resonate well. Physicians take an oath to ‘apply for benefit of the sick all measures that are required … so concepts like reimbursement and cost-benefit ratios run counterintuitive to a doctor’s mission.”
People who routinely check with yelp.com to find out what customers are saying about area restaurants might be surprised to find that local medical doctors also get reviews on yelp, so I checked to see what patients have said about Dr. Lewis. According to C.B., who gave MAFP four stars, “Dr. Lewis is super. Not only is he cute, but he knows medicine. He makes you feel comfortable, and he is very attentive to his patients. I’ve been coming to this practice for at least 12 years, and I don’t have any serious complaints.”
Another patient, Kimberley B., who gave MAFP five stars, wrote, “This is the best practice I have ever used. I have been a patient here for over 15 years. Dr. Lewis and the other doctors care deeply for their patients and take all the time necessary to get the right treatment. I have a nephrologist, and Dr. Lewis and the nurses consult regularly with him to coordinate my care.”
For more information: 215-848-6880 or mtairyfamilypractice.com. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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