In contrast to his years of hectic emergency room work, the Clinic’s newest doctor loves having the luxury of time to talk to patients and to hear about all their ailments. That extra time benefits patients, too, he says. Unlike in an ER, at the Clinic “Patients see doctors and nurse practitioners who have time to see what’s bothering them,” Dr. Kirkpatrick said.
“From the patients’ perspective, this place rocks,” he said. It’s cheaper than most doctor’s offices; Clinic referrals to specialists are often less expensive; common medications cost less at the pharmacy, and patients are given time to explain their health problems.
Dr. Kirkpatrick was trained in comprehensive care and appreciates having time to spend with patients. “It’s so good for me,” he said.
He grew up in Western Pennsylvania. After high school he attended the Air Force Academy, but after two years decided that life was not for him and switched to the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. He sold knives from door to door to pay for it, he said. He then studied at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia (now part of Drexel University).
While he was completing his residency in Muncie, Ind. he earned his master’s degree in teaching. Later he moved to Chattanooga and practiced medicine in Athens, Tenn. for 15 years. In total, he has practiced medicine for more than 40 years.
He used his teaching qualifications by becoming an associate professor of family medicine in Chattanooga while working in Athens. Later he moved to Mobile, Ala. where he taught at the University of Southern Alabama. In Mobile, he switched to emergency room work, and it was there he met Gail Steele, who– years later– would later tell him about Mountain Hope Clinic, where she began to work one day weekly after her retirement.
He and his wife, Wanda, have moved to the Richardson’s Cove area. They have long wanted to live in this area, he said. For the past three months, he has worked on Mondays and Fridays at the Clinic and continues his emergency room work in Mobile two days a week, twice a month.
The couple has eight adult children from previous marriages and six grandchildren between them. Dr. Kirkpatrick’s hobbies include saltwater fish, gardening and flowers.
His decision to practice at the Clinic and live in Sevier County has been “The best move I made in a long time,” he said.