Eggs and Issues focuses on health care, Harbin Clinic
by Jason Lowrey
Dec 08, 2013 | 1428 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For its December talk, the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast hosted Dr. Ken Davis, CEO and president of Harbin Clinic, for a discussion of the clinic’s history and operations.

Davis explained how Wylie Reeder Harbin was a surgeon during the Civil War who eventually relocated from South Carolina to the northwest Georgia area. He had two sons who he sent to Harvard and Cornell universities for their medical training. His sons would eventually return to the area and bring with them the high standards of medical care they acquired while in college.

“The story gets really interesting in that he had two sons. Back in the 1870s, medical schools in the South were not very good,” Davis said. “Most were unaccredited. There was actually a surgeon in Dalton who had six students ever year. He was an absolute lunatic and he produced six lunatic surgeons every year.”

The sons founded the Harbin Hospital in Rome, which offered an ambulance service for $1. In 1919 they built a new hospital that was seven stories tall, making it one of the largest buildings in Rome. In 1948 the hospital was converted to a clinic so as not to compete with Floyd Medical Center. Later, in the 1960s, the clinic’s board decided to construct a new building and it is still in use.

“They were truly remarkable men. They were in their 60s and decided to build a modern building knowing they were not going to practice medicine there,” Davis said.

To maintain the high quality of care set by its founders, Davis said the Harbin Clinic surveys its patients to determine the quality of care doctors are providing. The doctors are put into green, yellow or red categories that measure how well they are performing. Any doctor in the red category is sent before a quality assurance panel to determine how the doctor can improve or if the doctor should be let go.

Doctors are also proctored, Davis added.

“We wanted every outcome reported at Harbin Clinic. We monitor every one of our new physicians. A new doctor comes in. He or she is a new surgeon, they’ve been trained at a great school, great residence. Are they any good? We make sure that our cardiologist, our surgeons, operate with that person 20 or 30 times before we allow that person to operate by themselves,” he said.

After his presentation, Davis took questions and gave his opinion on the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”

“There are actually positive things in the Affordable Care Act. We’re not going to get there anytime soon because the good stuff is buried very deep. But there are some very positive things I see in this,” he said. “Access [to healthcare] is an issue. I think it will help. I think over time this will lower costs and do believe that there will be better coordination here.

“... For us at Harbin Clinic it is a disaster. We cannot plan for the future because it’s just not clear to us. They change the regulations every two to three weeks. We got some regs on Friday that we have been reading all weekend that just make no real — they make no sense. It’s a disaster. I think in two years it’s going to be a real disaster, and I’m not saying this from a political standpoint. I would want this to work if I thought it was going to create better care and better access and lower costs.”

Prior to Davis’ talk, Kristina Mitchell and Amber McCurley spoke to chamber members about their program with the Bartow County School System: Project Search, which helps students with disabilities acquire the skills needed for employment.

McCurley said Project Search is working with Cartersville Medical Center to help a small group of students gain job skills and she hoped additional businesses would sign on as well.

“Our goal is to have our students employed 20 hours a week, non-seasonal, and we had one graduate yesterday. He is now employed at the T/A on Cassville Road. He worked 42 hours last week, and so he was our first graduated, so we have eight left to go,” she said. “But what we want to do is develop that partnership with businesses, so that you say, ‘We have this job, an entry level position and there’s big turnover.’

“The kids learn those skills and by the end of the year we send them out into the work environment prepared for the jobs that are out there. ... We are doing medical-type jobs, but we’re also doing environmental services, things like that. So it’s not preparing them for the medical field.”

After the talks, chamber President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. urged members to buy tickets or tables for the annual celebration in January before they are all sold out. Chairman Wayne Moore said there would be no speaker this year as the chamber has a number of people it would like to recognize for their work. The event will celebrate the chamber’s 125th anniversary and will be held at Tellus Science Museum.