By Jason A. Smith
The head of a new medical practice in Henry County says he hopes to fill a void in the community by providing health care services to uninsured patients.
"We ... provide primary care for those individuals who don't have insurance, or are underinsured," says Dr. Frank Robinson, of Stockbridge. He says his mission is to offer "quality, affordable and accessible health care" for people with difficulty paying for the service.
"We have been called everything from a free clinic to an indigent clinic, to a social-services agency," Robinson says. "We are none of those things, although at times, we might be any of those things."
The doctor is the founder and owner of Ferco Medical Associates, LLC, located at 130 Eagle Springs Court, Suite "C," in Stockbridge. The facility opened in June. Robinson, 53, graduated from Rutgers University in 1986, and says he has worked in the family-medicine arena in New York, North Carolina and Georgia.
He says the impetus for his Stockbridge practice came while he was working as a medical director for an insurance company in North Carolina.
"A lot was being written in the press at that time about individuals who did not have health insurance," he says. "I read there were 47 million uninsured people in the United States, and it really piqued my interest. When I got to Georgia, it dawned on me that this was a possible opportunity to make a difference."
Robinson says his experience as a physician includes working in emergency rooms, urgent-care facilities and hospital medicine. Those experiences, he says, opened his eyes to a large number of primary-care patients who are unable to get the care they need.
"I saw those venues [were] clogged with individuals who ... should really be treated at the primary-care level, as opposed to the emergency room at 9 p.m.," says Robinson, noting that Georgia has 1.5 million uninsured residents. "[They] then wind up with medical bills of $500-1,000 for simple primary-care problems."
Robinson also notes that Ferco operates on an up-front basis without billing patients, which allows them to escape the "red tape," which sometimes accompanies a visit to a doctor.
"There's a huge discrepancy between what hospitals will allow an insurance company to get away with on payment, and what they will not allow a cash-paying patient to [do to] fight a charge," he says. "Private-pay patients ... have no room to negotiate. They can be hounded and taken to collections."
Compounding the problem, adds Robinson, are lengthy waits inside hospital emergency rooms, where doctors cannot turn away patients, regardless of their ability to pay for service.
In an effort to solve those issues for local residents, Robinson says he wants to get rid of "bottlenecks" which prevent residents from gaining access to health care. "We want to eliminate the bottleneck of cost, by offering discounted rates while providing quality service," he explains. "We want to reduce the complexity of the health care system."
Tina Corprew works at Ferco as a medical office administrator. She says Robinson's patients appreciate the "convenience" of having health care services readily available to them. "They can get an office visit, get their prescription and get on track," she says. "It's a breath of fresh air.
Corprew adds that the "personalized" nature of the practice, allows Robinson and his staff to work with each patient's schedule. "If they go to the emergency room, they're going to sit and wait for, possibly, hours," she says.
Robinson says he hopes Ferco will serve as a template for other doctor's offices to follow. He also hopes to educate the uninsured population in Henry and Clayton counties, regarding their options for care.
For more information, call Ferco at (678) 289-5463.