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Health care: New medical director focuses on prevention

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Weary of the Pittsburgh winters and a hectic work schedule, Dr. Teresa Nolan was looking for a change when she came to visit her brother at TPC Prince Creek.

She liked the neighborhood and the coastal weather and decided it was time to retire from her practice of hematology and oncology. But she didn’t intend to stop helping people. Before she moved to South Carolina she had seen a list of volunteer opportunities in AARP’s online magazine.

“It said free medical clinic for people without insurance. That’s right down my alley. I came here, and it was just wonderful. I’ve absolutely loved it,” Nolan said.

She has gone from being a volunteer doctor to medical director at an exciting time for the Smith Medical Clinic. A new 5,000-square foot facility is under roof across the driveway from the old Baskervill summer camp dormitory where the clinic has operated since it outgrew Dr. Cathcart Smith’s original trailer. In Georgetown, Smith Medical Clinic is operating a satellite office in the Tidelands Community Resource Center at Wood and Highmarket streets. While the satellite office has been a “godsend” for people in Georgetown, Nolan expects the Baskervill clinic to remain the hub of operations.

As medical director, Nolan coordinates the professional volunteers — doctors and nurses. “You have to oversee the credentials,” she said, “and also try to look at what the goals of the clinic will be.”

She hopes to focus more resources on prevention and screening. It’s better to treat high blood pressure than a stroke. “We already do mammograms and colonoscopies,” she said, “and everybody who comes in gets a flu shot. Because we are not a big budget operation, it’s going to be in slow increments.”

Anne Faul, executive director of Smith Clinic, said Nolan is replacing Dr. Carl Fisher as medical director. “Dr. Fisher has done a fabulous job,” she said. “We were very concerned that we would not find anybody who could fill his very big shoes.”

Faul said Fisher reluctantly agreed to take the job as medical director six years ago. “We pressed him into service as medical director and told him it would be interim,” she said. “What Dr. Fisher really loves is seeing patients, and we are happy he is going to continue to see patients at the medical clinic.”

Faul said the clinic is fortunate to have found somebody with Nolan’s background. “She is so interested and passionate about the work,” Faul said. “She is a wonderful fit for the position and the clinic in particular. She has a real heart for the work and is excellent on all levels.”

The new building is on schedule to be finished by the end of the year, she said. The capital campaign needs just $60,000 to reach its goal. The clinic fund drive is selling bricks engraved with donors’ names or memorials for a walkway. “We were very fortunate to have had a successful ‘quiet’ phase of the campaign,” Faul said.

To contribute, go to smithfreeclinic.org.

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