There was a time in the history of our great nation when the family physician was a trusted friend, a kind and knowledgeable healthcare professional who not only helped heal our sickness and tended to our wounds, but also knew our family, our background, our interests and activities. It was in part because of this relationship that he knew exactly what to do in unique situations that a visiting physician wouldn’t be privy to. All this, and they even made house calls!
In recent years, the field of medicine has evolved dramatically with advancements, disease cures, preventive medicines, resources and tools to discover potential problems that otherwise would not have been found until it was too late. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, as technology has advanced, many physicians have left behind the personal touches of the true Family Physician. The advantage of knowing the patient and his or her situation individually enhances the physician’s insight into the patient’s health concerns. This trusting relationship is central to maintaining the overall good health of the patient in the long run. If medicine and treatments are the cure, trust is the cornerstone of the medical profession. It’s what allows doctors to better gather information and further understand what’s going on with their patients; thus, making their diagnosis more accurate, efficient and successful. It’s also what makes patients visit their doctors more often, when they need to, and assures care can be provided on a more effective basis.
Fortunately, the traditional community approach to medicine has not gone away with the horse and buggy. One such example is located right here in our own community. Summer FamilyCare, located at 6614 Shallowford Road in Lewisville, is an independent, small, private, family practice operated by Dr. Michael Summer and Dr. Leigh Summer. These talented, skilled, highly qualified and caring doctors met while in medical school at East Carolina University. Their relationship blossomed, as well as their medical careers, while serving on active duty as medical officers in the U.S. Navy in the United States, as well as Japan and the Western Pacific. After their tour of duty in the Navy, they eventually made their way back home to North Carolina and set up shop in Lewisville, where they’ve been serving their patients since 2005.
In this day and age of big medicine, it’s not always easy to find a primary physician who makes you feel like family, and that’s what makes Summer FamilyCare so special. Given that Dr. Mike and Dr. Leigh are family themselves, they’re able to bring a unique approach to their community-driven family practice. They both share the same passion for creating an environment where patients feel welcome, comfortable, and friendly with their primary doctors and the excellent nurses and staff that assist them, including Starr, Amber, Kelly, Courtney and Katie. It’s apparent they’ve been successful achieving this goal, given the loyal patient base they’ve developed in a relatively short period of time. Patients know at Summer FamilyCare the doctors and staff care about them more than just as patients, but also as people and friends of the practice. Working together, they strive to provide superior, high-quality care without sacrificing the hometown feel of a trusted doctor who has only your best interest at heart. Dr. Mike reminds us that “Summer FamilyCare provides care for people of all ages, from newborns to seniors, eliminating the need or potential for a different doctor each time. Children receive Well-Child visits and sick visits if needed, and we offer same-day appointments.”
Recent studies show this small-practice approach is working very effectively today. One such study performed by Weill Cornell Medical found that practices with one to two physicians had one-third fewer hospital admissions (those that could be prevented) than practices with 10–19 physicians, and that physician-owned practices also had fewer preventable admissions than hospital-owned practices in this study. Their findings indicate that connections among patients, physicians, and staff may be closer in smaller practices, resulting in part in this positive outcome. They also indicated communication might be easier to come by in the smaller practices, allowing patients to be seen on the same day when necessary.
In that regard, Dr. Mike had this to say about their approach to practicing medicine, “We strive to be a comfortable place for people to get the treatment they need, by such means as having an actual person answer the phone versus a machine. We also greet people by name and by memory, because our patients are like family to us. A lot of people avoid going to the doctor because it’s really stressful or just overall a negative experience. It doesn’t have to be that way. It didn’t use to be that way when small practices were the rule rather than the exception. We want to change that; after all, it’s bad enough when a patient’s feeling ill, they shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable, as well, seeing their doctor for help.”
Summer FamilyCare is aware of the high cost of medical insurance today, and Dr. Mike advises that a lot of the costs associated with a patient’s visit are dictated by the insurance companies. However, to help those who either need or prefer to pay the costs themselves (out-of-pocket when necessary, without involving insurance), Summer FamilyCare will work with those patients and their costs to help them to be able to afford this option.
At a time when so many in their profession choose specialties over family medicine for economic reasons, Drs. Mike and Leigh Summer truly felt this was where they needed to be. The small-practice, community-driven approach affords them the opportunity to get to know their patients well, understand their issues and concerns and guide them in care that they fully understand and can follow with confidence and persistence. The result allows their patients to stay on top of good health practices and lead strong, normal productive lives to the best of their abilities. That’s about all one can ask for from their healthcare provider.
When it comes to time away from the office, Dr. Mike and Dr. Leigh are involved in a variety of activities. One that is dear to their heart is The Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, where they’ve assisted in taking care of the animals over the last ten years. Dr. Mike says it’s an honor and privilege for his family to help this tremendous organization that cares for so many. Dr. Leigh is also a past recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (awarded for over 500 hours of volunteer service to the community within a given year).
They’ve been blessed with two children; their daughter, Sarah, attends NC State University in Raleigh as a U.S. Navy ROTC scholarship cadet, continuing the legacy of her parents, grandparents and a long list of relatives who are also faithful members of the Wolfpack alumni. Their son, Sam, is a sophomore at West Forsyth High School and enjoys participating in band and scouting. And the entire family relishes the company of their three delightful cats.
In the end, both Dr. Mike and Dr. Leigh have a shared objective in their profession and how they live their lives, and that is to have a positive impact on their patients’ lives, to have a positive and beneficial influence in their community, to be fine, supportive parents to their children, and to provide a quality, affordable, friendly healthcare option for families of all ages and sizes.
To learn more about Summer FamilyCare, or to make an appointment, visit their website at summerfamilycare.com, or give them a call at (336) 945-0277. You can ask them about Well-Woman Wednesdays, when Dr. Leigh is available on that morning every week for health visits for women of all ages, including physicals, Pap smear testing, wellness discussions and planning, and more. Dr. Mike leaves us with this important advice his patients have heard quite often: always remember to exercise; after all, anything is better than nothing!