Dr. Rachel Hecht, pediatrician, opens new practice in town

By Rozella Hardin

STAR STAFF

   Dr. Rachel Hecht is the new pediatrician in town. Hecht's office is located in the First Medical Group Building off West Elk Avenue in the offices of Dr. Brent D. Laing and Dr. John D. Green.
   Her husband, David Hecht, is a surgeon and also has an office in Elizabethton. The couple have been in Elizabethton since last June, but Hecht has just recently opened her practice here as she is a new mother, having a seven-month-old daughter. The couple also have a two-year-old daughter. For the present, Hecht will be in her office Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and patients on Tuesday and Thursday will see the nurse practitioner. However, patients calling after hours will not get a recording. They will either get Hecht or the nurse practitioner. "We hope to recruit a second pediatrician to the practice, so we will have someone in the office each day of the week," she said.
   Both Hecht and her husband were in practice in Jacksonville, Fla., when lured to the area by a local surgeon. "We visited here and really liked the town and decided to relocate. It is a wonderful place to live, and to wake up each morning and look out at the mountains. We also discovered that Elizabethton is a very family-committed community, and we like that," she said.
   A native of New Orleans, Hecht attended Louisiana State University and did her residency at the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville.
   Since moving to Elizabethton, Hecht has been working with Lucy Morton, Elizabethton City School nurse. She has agreed to be the physician of record for the school system and has helped out some with protocol, such as signing permission forms allowing medication to be given to students, etc.
   Hecht said both of her parents were pediatricians and actually discouraged her from going into medicine. "But I went to medical school anyway, and it was obvious to me that pediatrics was what I want to do. I feel it is my calling. I enjoy medicine and I love children, so it's a perfect match," she said.
   She hopes to make an impact in preventive medicine. "Anticipatory guidance is what it is. I want to keep children healthy so they don't get sick. This involves teaching parents about such things as immunizations and preventive medicine and monitoring the development of children," Hecht said.
   One of the most difficult things about medicine today, Hecht says, "is taking care of your patients the best you can and at the same time dealing with insurance companies. It's a fine line you walk; trying to take care of patients and being a smart business person, too.
   "You must constantly keep up to date on new medicines and new treatments and at the same be aware of insurance and Medicaid changes," Hecht said.
   While she would like to be at the office every day, having two little ones calls for being at home more. "I have to juggle my time and schedule so as to be both a mother and a doctor," she said.
   Having her office in the same suite as two obstetricians/gynecologists seemed a natural fit said Hecht, since they deliver babies, and they need someone to treat them.
   Dr. Hecht has medical privileges at Sycamore Shoals Hospital, and is already seeing patients.