the state

– of doctors. by vastate
Wednesday, 6 May 2009, 22:09
Filed under: -of harrisonburg, -of health, -of jhumphrey, -of kiddos

warning.  this is a bit of a rant.

i can’t get my kid (never mind either of the grownups in this house) in to see a doctor (pediatrician or family practice) in this town.


i’ve been calling around, every couple of months, since we moved here (last august).  my first choice was schubert, marsh, and pence in dayton – because we’ve heard rave reviews. but they have, and are still, only accepting new patients with a dayton address.

so, i went big.  i called rmh family medicine.


i’ve been told that they are “really far out for new patient appointments” and had no suggestions as to when we might be accepted into the practice.

then, two weeks ago, our family was struck down “with the strep throat.”


i called around again.  was told that there was “no way” an appointment was available for today and that once again, either “we’re only accepting patients from dayton” or “we’re really far out for any new patient appointment.”

and when i asked the various doctor’s offices’ advice about what to do with my sick kid and husband…

“i guess you can take them to the emergency room.”


(i’m trying to control my blood pressure while recounting this tale.)

take them to the emergency room?!?

isn’t that philosophy exactly what is wrong with our health care system?  spend $2000 on a non-emergent visit to the emergency room, on the advice of a family practice doc…?

we ended up spending the day at the staunton patient care plus (the cheapest of the locals walk-in clinic options, at $90 a pop.  the harrisonburg emergicare is $125 for a visit and a throat swab. neither are covered by our insurance.)

the NP we saw was nice.  she diagnosed the problem.  prescribed the drugs.  and we went on our way.

but my kid still didn’t have a doctor.

so, i turned to charlottesville.  i know a lot of pediatricians and family practice folks from working at the local community hospital.  and i really like most of them.  it’s a good bunch over there.  but the philosophy of dr. greg gelburd, of downtown family health care, is particularly parallel to our own.  he doesn’t think all newborns must get a hepatitis b vaccine before escaping the grasp of the hospital.  he utilizes homeopathy in conjunction with conventional medications. he frequently volunteers his medical skills.  his clinic has a sliding scale for low-income patients.

the last point is particularly important to me.  if i’m going to patronize a doctor’s office, providing compensation in the form of my private insurance, i want that percentage to benefit a practice brave enough to insist that medical care should be for everyone.

because this guy is so great (and was voted best doctor in charlottesville last year), i figured that there was no way i would be able to get in.


i called this afternoon.  the receptionist was terribly nice.  appologized that there were no new patient appointments for today, but offered to send out the new patient paperwork first thing tomorrow so we could be sure and get our little one in for his upcoming 3 year old well child check.

maybe this is just a case of bad luck/good luck.

what have been your local experiences getting in to see a doctor in harrisonburg?  i’m especially interested if you have medicaid coverage.  any difficulties?  i’m hoping to be proved wrong.  i’m hoping that i just talked to the wrong people (multiple times) at the wrong time (several times, over several months).

at any rate.  kudos to dr. gelburd’s office for being kind.  i want to kiss that receptionist.

but i am still living in harrisonburg and taking my kid to the doctor over an hour away…


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I used to go to Harrisonburg Family Practice when I lived in the burg… I wouldn’t say I would give it a rave review but I’ve called in the morning and gotten same-day appointments before.

Comment by David Troyer

We take our kids to Bluestone Pediatrics and we have been VERY pleased with them. I am pretty sure they are accepting new patients.

Bluestone Pediatrics
4059 Quarles Ct
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
(540) 437-4800

Comment by Scott Rogers

I’ve heard good things about Bluestone Pediatrics too, but I don’t have kids. I’ve been going to RMH Family Medicine, but it took them three months to see me the first time. I’ve heard really good things about the practice on Reservoir with the pharmacy attached, roughly across from Costco…can’t think of the name.

Comment by wellmet

Ditto about Bluestone Pediatrics. I’ve heard really good things about them, too. We go to the Harrisonburg Community Health Center on Neff because it had the only pediatrician 100% covered by my insurance. The people there are really nice, but every time I’ve gone there, it has taken them an hour to see me. Unfortunately, I think this is normal for doctors. Also, I just made my son’s well baby appointment and they couldn’t see us for four weeks.

Comment by Nancy

that’s great to hear about bluestone!

i am still very surprised at how booked up all the docs are around here. i’ve lived & had doctors in seattle and olympia washington with a little one needing those frequent well-child visits and have never had the waits described by you and and friends in harrisonburg.

i also worked in a busy community health/family practice clinic and know first hand some of the challenges of daily scheduling. but not to the extent described around here…

is it just a shortage of docs? anyone have any ideas? it seems a little outrageous for a current patient to wait four weeks for a well child check. do people have a hard time getting in for

Comment by vastate

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