Hillcrest Family Health Center (HFHC) began with discussions between Alton Pearson, CEO of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center (HBMC) and Drs. Joe Corbett and David Lockhart in the mid 1980’s. This led to an affiliation agreement between HBMC and Waco Clinic P.A. in 1987. This group grew and merged with various practices until 1996, when HFHC was incorporated. HFHC is now a 501(c)(3) subsidiary of the current Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest Medical Center. From its incorporation in 1996 with 11 physician partners, it has grown to 33 physicians and five advanced practice professionals practicing at eight clinic locations. HFHC provides ambulatory Family Medicine at six locations and ambulatory Pediatric Medicine at 2 locations.
HFHC currently serves approximately 63,000 patients. They are also supportive of the Family Health Center and many of the HFHC providers are graduates of Waco’s local Family Medicine residency program. One of its graduates, Steve Raley, has served as the medical director of HFHC for the past 16 years, and helped me get this timeline and information together.
Ron Wilson, M.D.
Ron graduated from Baylor University in 1971 and from Baylor College of Medicine in 1974. He spent 13 years in the Air Force, and received his Internal Medicine and Nephrology training while in the service. After the Air Force he spent 10 years in Corsicana, Texas in a multispecialty clinic where he started a hemodialysis unit, eventually serving 100 dialysis patients. He then moved to Waco in 1994 and joined Waco Nephrology Associates. He resigned from full-time work in Nephrology to practice general Internal Medicine at Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest in September 2014.
Ron has been very involved in Baylor since returning to Waco. For more than 15 years, he has worked as an adjunct professor with the Department of Health and Human Performance and their lab, collaborating on numerous papers published in journals, and teaching a three hour course there. He has been a Regent at Baylor the past seven years. Ron and his wife of 42 years attend many Baylor athletic events, but also work at mentoring students, “adopting” students from countries other than United States, and serving on advisory boards. Ron and Betty were named Baylor parents of the year in 2002. He and his wife also created and funded a scholarship for Baylor students.
One of Ron’s joys has been teaching Family Medicine residents at FHC through the years. He has served as president of MCMERF, and has been honored by the residents with the Bryan Aynesworth Teaching Award in 1999, 2004 and 2010. When I was a resident here, Dr. Wilson’s name was synonymous with quaking in your boots due to his challenging questions and teaching style. The first time I had to call him was the summer of 1996 while I was doing an overnight shift in the Providence ER as an intern. I saw he was on call, and I needed to let him know he would need to admit his patient. I spent a sizable time examining the patient from head to toe, reading all their background, and memorizing every lab value and necessary calculation (like the fractional excretion of sodium and many others). Finally I called, armed with every answer he could possibly throw my way. He listened to my presentation, said thanks and goodnight. I said, “Wait, aren’t you going to ask me any questions?” He said, “Tim, it’s 3 am and right now my priority is sleep!”
How do you feel things are in Waco medicine today?
In many respects, things have never been better. Both hospitals have excellent leadership and medical faculty, including primary care and specialists as well as outstanding nursing personnel to care for the patients. That being said, there are many things that are currently troubling including in no particular order the cost of medical care, availability of medical care, and still some specialties that are underrepresented in both Waco hospitals. Vertical integration and mergers are happening almost on a monthly basis in the medical field nationwide. This has led unfortunately to the medical community that I have known for the last 20+ years being separated into basically two large and at times competitive medical complexes. These mergers I believe are inevitable but have changed the practice of medicine in Waco. I think it’ll be exceedingly rare if not impossible for someone to be in a solo medical practice or even in a small group practice and survive financially in the future. Controlling staff and other costs, dealing with insurance and Medicare/Medicaid, reimbursement rates changing that increasingly requires the MD attention – these all have negatively affected the medical practice. Finally, the advent of electronic medical records has added, not improved, medical overhead in expense and time required of the physician. The EMR has worsened the quality of care of the patient and the doctor-patient relationships. Having been a patient myself, talking to my physician with his head down typing in the computer is now needed and probably inevitable, but never satisfying. The EMR records document a great deal of data without a great deal of medical communication as to the thought processes of a patient’s medical problem.
What do you hope to see happen in the future?
One of my concerns is the education of the young physician. To me, medicine is a calling and not just a job. My main contact with young physicians has to do with the Family Medicine residents that train here in Waco. I would like to see increased resources made available for the young physicians’ education in clinical research as well as their incorporating research into their everyday practice. Research stimulates the young physician to stay current with the medical literature. I particularly would encourage more interest and even more clinical research into how to teach patients, especially those at-risk patient populations, to maintain good health, with a special emphasis on exercise and nutrition. Nutrition is especially important not so much as to its obvious role of clinical importance but also more mundane things such as getting access to nutritious foods at an affordable price.
If there is one message you’d give to today’s physician, what would it be?
It would be best summarized in a phrase whose authorship I do not know but taught me by a former colleague –“Availability, Affability, and Ability”. Be available to see the patient and help them with their medical problems, as helping them is an honor and privilege. Be affable with your patients in all aspects of their care, which to many patients is the most important of all the things a physician does. Finally, maintain ability in your medical knowledge by studying and keeping up with the medical literature, remembering the oath we all took in medical school “to do no harm!”