High-tech Care with Old-Fashioned Values


NOTE: THIS IS WRITTEN SUNDAY 2/24...the blog date seems to be stuck.

My practice (as well as my life) has been going through some times of testing. Without going into a lot of detail I will say that there have been some extreme financial pressures since early Fall of 2007. After delaying for as long as possible I began to pray about whether I needed to close the practice to avoid more financial debt or look at other options. My options were limited in White Pine. There are always jobs for doctors so I knew I could move the practice elsewhere, join another group (which would make me move) or choose to be employed somewhere (also entailing a move). I had set a 3/1/08 deadline for a decision.

In the first week of February a friend informed me of another option: talking with a local hospital that was considering expanding their clinic network into White Pine. After some preliminary inquiries I found that, indeed, this might happen and that they may be interested in negotiating with me. By February 12th I had a preliminary contract in hand and after much prayer I decided to sign at noon on February 15th. By the 20th the practice's assets had been reviewed and the ball was rolling.

Long story short, on 2/25/08 the clinic (which largely will look the same for now) will be operated by a subsidiary of Lakeway Regional Hospital in Morristown. I will by employed by them and they will provide all the supplies and staff the clinic. Whew! This moved very fast but seemed to provide for the top goals I had: 1) to stabilize finances personally for my family and their future and 2) to keep the practice in White Pine. A month ago this was not on the radar and I pray that I have heard and heeded God's providence.

The changes will not be without pain. I will lose some control of operations and billing and collecting. The hospital is committed to helping my existing patients remain. They also take all the major insurance that I do (including TriCare and Medicare and all the TennCare). The staff will be hired and managed by the company. This means we will have more staff but the staff will change. This likely will cause the most pain as our team in the past has been so important to what I do. Believe me when I say I hope this change will keep our care improving daily.

Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers from those of you that know the stress I have been enduring the past year. Your prayers and encouragement have helped me get through this time. I hope and pray that by remaining in White Pine, although under different practice management, I will return to you and the community the commitment you have shown me.


Our men's group is studying a book on the need to hold to absolute truth in this world. As we have moved into a world that has developed some understanding that science and logic is not going to answer all the questions of life (the Post-Modern world of thought), truth, especially absolute truth, has become a casualty. We have moved more and more to the use of relative truth. We feel this makes us tolerant and encompasses the ambiguity and chaos that we see around us. "Well, that's my opinion" is a commonly heard phrase that really means "I believe what I just said right now regardless of the facts and I may change my mind in the future. This is America and I can have and express that opinion."

Indeed, the relative freedom we think we have in modern democracies allows all types of ideas to, in theory, be expressed boldly. Ideally those ideas would be discussed, tested and discarded if they have no basis in some type of truth. In reality our desire for tolerance often means the ideas stay out in the public consciousness as "relative truth" that is not tested or questioned. Outside of hard science we feel uncomfortable with someone stating that there is an ABSOLUTE truth that can be known and understood. A person holding to that view is seen as "rigid" or "narrow-minded" and, in our politically correct environment, "fundamentalist".

In Christianity this denial of absolute truth is harmful. By allowing "fuzziness" to replace clarity we open the Church up to false doctrine. By championing tolerance over truth (tough though it may be) we weaken our witness. In the garden the original way Satan attacked human relationship to God was "God did not really say..." and that doubt allowed the sin to seem less obvious as it dangled there in front of them.

Christ said "I am the way and the TRUTH..." this means that if we as Christians believe Christ was the Divine incarnated as a man that His Words ARE truth. When He says we must love others as ourselves or that the hour of His return is not to be know by any but the Father or that God so loved the world that He was sent so that anyone who believes would have eternal life these are truth. To make His life and words fuzzy is to dangerously flirt with changing (not enhancing) the truth.

Certainly we run the risk of being rigid like the Pharisees of old but their rigidity was exposed by the fundamental lack of truth in the way they lived their lives. Christ opposed their form of religious practice and offered the Truth-based alternative for us to follow. "You have heard it said.....but I say..." was a way of showing us that the absolute truth on which this universe is based comes from God....IS GOD. Ultimately God is the truth and as Christians we must look to Christ and his example and his words as the expression of that truth.

If we believe this then our we may be called rigid or intolerant. However, no one would say that showing people the door marked "EXIT" in a burning building is rigid or intolerant. Not just any door will do and insisting that there is a door and that it is clearly marked is not a sign of narrow-mindedness!