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Physician incorporates latest technology into new facility

Clinton — Some men don’t like to admit that they have picked out the colors for a new interior, but not David Wheat, M.D., owner of the recently-constructed, 3,900-square-foot Clinton Family Clinic, LLC.

The family practitioner, who sees some 100 patients per week, said he enjoyed deciding on the shades and textures because it was most important to him that his patients “get a sense that this is ‘our’ building.”

“I look at my practice as a family, and I want my patients to have their own sense of belonging — a sense of pride in its professional appearance,” Wheat said.

The earthtones, he said, are much more soothing than the dark brown paneling and white paint that greeted the visitors to his former clinic, a part of the Springridge Village Shopping Center on Springridge Road.

Wheat’s desire for a professional look begins on the facility’s exterior where majestic white columns, a solid wood door surrounded by small window panes and deep red brick welcome current and new patients into a large waiting room with leather chairs.

The business’s new address, at 309-A Morrison Drive, is also in a growing professional office area, just off U.S. 80, in a city that continues to flourish with development. Another doctor, a dentist, optometrist, insurance agent and home designer all have offices around this location, and Wheat expects traffic to increase.

He said, “Our exposure to Highway 80 and now to Clinton Boulevard will bring more people,” said Wheat, who also named the close-by Wal-Mart Supercenter and new Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City as drawing cards.

Kate Newell of Clinton, a patient of Wheat’s for six years, said she knew that he had wanted to build his own clinic for a long time.

“He knew this was the right thing for him to do — it meant progress,” said Newell, whose grandparents and parents have been treated by Wheat for many years.

A former physician with MEA and Methodist medical clinics in Clinton, Wheat also sees the addition of a new partner, Dr. Julie Palmer, as not only an expansion of his business, but also as meeting the needs of more people who are looking for a local doctor. He admits that one reason Palmer was probably attracted to his practice was because of the plans to build this new facility.

“It would have been a factor to me if I had been the one looking for a place to practice,” he said.

While Palmer has decorated her side of the building with what Wheat calls “a more feminine look,” the former ER doctor at Hinds General and Methodist hospitals said he gave his side a local flavor. Walter Anderson prints, Stephen Kirkpatrick photography and even his wife’s needlework make each room different.

The facility, constructed by contractor Shane Ormond of Clinton, has room for a third physician to practice, plus more spacious exam rooms, a larger lab and better lighting, according to Wheat, who hopes to have another partner on board within three years.

Along with the space amenities of the new clinic, the incorporation of electronic medical records is making the entire operation run smoother for the staff of six nurses and office employees.

SOAPware (Subjective, Objective Assessment and Planning software) is making the office paperless, with information on each patient readily available with the click of a mouse.

“I can write a diagnosis, graph vital signs, find a medication history, fax a prescription, answer phone messages and much more,” explained Wheat, who received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and did his residency at Northeast Alabama Medical Center in Aniston, Ala.

The aid of this new technology has put the information on more than 5,000 patients in a secure electronic system and has helped put the paper charts in storage.

“It’s also eliminated the need for an office staff person to file them,” he said.

Wheat’s clinic is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursday afternoons, which he said he will be opening up soon for appointments.

“We’re taking new patients and will also see walk-ins,” he said.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Harriet S. Vickers at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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