Medical Care to expand practice in two new locations

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff

A local medical practice that has been bursting at the seams for several years will soon have more room to grow. Medical Care LLC, 1900 W. Elk Avenue, will add an additional office in Elizabethton and open a new facility in Johnson City.
   Steve Hopland, a physician with Medical Care, recently confirmed expansions that will take place in the medical practice's near future. Hopland expects the second facility to open in Elizabethton as early as January, but is unable to release the exact location of the additional office.
   "It will not be finalized until January, and I do not want to jeopardize any legal dealings that are not completed yet," Hopland said. He added that the practice's attorneys are waiting until January to finalize the deal in order for the transaction to be filed with next year's taxes.
   The practice is also planning on adding more medical care providers at its primary location on W. Elk. A urologist will be added at the facility along with an additional obstetrician and gynecologist. Dr. Scott May is slated to begin as the multi-specialty practice's second OBGYN at the beginning of the year.
   Patients will also be able to choose between two surgeons at Medical Care. Dr. Richard Martin will soon be added to the surgical staff at the primary location.
   Medical Care has already begun renovating a 30,000 square-foot office building for its new practice in Johnson City. The building, at 401 E. Main St., will have the capacity to house up to 15 doctors; however, Hopland expects to start out with four or five doctors and expand as the need arises. Renovations at the facility in Johnson City are slated to be completed by June.
   Hopland attributes Medical Care's success to its willingness to accept patients most health care providers reject. Several physicians in Tennessee have recently stopped seeing TennCare patients because they are not able to collect full reimbursement for their services.
   "We are running more efficiently, and our overhead is lower than others. We can make money where others are losing money, because other practices are turning away TennCare patients. We are accepting all new BlueCare patients," Hopland said. "Somebody has to take care of these patients. It has always been our general philosophy to take care of the patients. It is not that complex but, that is what we have been doing and it seems to be working out for us."
   Hopland stated that it is more difficult to make large amounts of money off Medicare patients, but it is possible to pay the bills, and to have a successful practice that treats those with government- provided health insurance.
   Physicians at Medical Care hope the new facilities and larger staff will help to eliminate some of the current crowding in the waiting room. "We are hoping that by expanding we will make it so patients do not have to wait so long to get in. We try to get to everybody as fast as we can, but we take a lot of walk ins, and it sometimes takes a long time to get in, especially during the flu season," Hopland said. "It will be an increase in the availability of care. It is going to be a change that I think everybody is going to like."
   Hopland stated the additions will provide the community with improved health care because of the technology that will be utilized at the facilities. He said everything will be done electronically, which increases the quality of patient information available to physicians. "If the doctor has all of the information in front of him he can make a better decision based on that information," Hopland said.
   Medical Care first opened in Elizabethton under Dr. Arnold Hopland in the mid 1980's. Over the years the practice has grown and was incorporated in 1997.
   There are currently 17 health care providers practicing with the group. The providers include full and part-time physicians as well as nurse practitioners.