Mary Bell Vaughn, MD
Primary Care Director
My story started in 1995 when I moved to Macon to attend Mercer Medical School. I was full of ideals I learned during my undergraduate years at the University of the South Sewanee and ready to make a positive difference for every patient. I continued to a residency at MCCG, sheltered by nurturing and deeply committed educators. The hospital had seemingly unlimited resources for indigents. Formulary tiers and precepts had no meaning yet.
Macon was a small town compared to my home in Midtown Atlanta, and I loved the close community feeling. Determined to stay in Macon, I borrowed a massive sum from the only banker who would lend it to me (thank you Sonny Sims), bought a building and hired two employees. I answered my own phone much of the time and split office cleaning with my office manager. Other physicians in the community were incredibly supportive, referring me patients from their offices and the ER. I worked every nursing home and odd job available until the office got busy.
Five years later, the hospitalists took over admitting, insurance payments became much more complicated, and hospitals were forced to run leaner. For ten more years, office practices had to adjust to an outpatient only practice, negotiate contracts, watch payments closely, and shift focus to aggressively pursuing preventative care. 15 years after the doors opened, I have 45 fantastic employees including three very tough office managers, five caring nurse practitioners, and two experienced part-time physicians.
Change generates anxiety. I hear many physicians grumbling from frustration. We need to remember that healthcare has a different face and the tools have changed, but the patients’ problems are the same. The principles remain constant in Medicine. As Hippocrates said, “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” I still believe it is the greatest profession in the world and I wholeheartedly encourage my son to follow in my footsteps.