This month Everything Knoxville is pleased to feature Knoxville-based Prodigal Primary Care founder, David Brickhouse. A United States Army veteran of 11 years, Captain Brickhouse served in Iraq as Medical Director in charge of 2,000 soldiers and marines as well as 5,000 Iraqi military personnel. For his efforts David was recognized with numerous awards throughout his military career, including the Bronze Star.
Armed with his many years of experience in providing a wide range of medical and treatment procedures, David launched his first primary care clinic in 2009. Today Prodigal Primary Care helps to meet the growing health needs of our community with five area clinics and a team of more than 60 compassionate health care professionals including five MDs, three Physician Assistants (PAs) and six Family Nurse Practitioners (NPs).
EK: How did the medical experience that you gained from serving in the military help prepare you to launch Prodigal Primary Care (PPC)?
David: In the military there is policy, procedure, protocol, and chain of command for every situation. You plan, practice, adjust the plan, practice the revised plan, and plan some more. But in the end it’s all about your people. It was the same with launching PPC. It always comes down to people. Finding the right people and doing the right things for the right reasons are what is important. Our goal at PPC is “to deliver world-class primary health care to every patient while ensuring that the patient experience is as easy, straightforward, and compassionate as possible, and it is our team that helps us achieve this goal.”
EK: Explain the role of advanced-practice providers, commonly referred to as PAs and NPs, in the health care community today.
David: PAs and NPs go through rigorous training in order to provide comprehensive medical care to their patients. The main objective of our advanced-practice providers is the same as any physician. Their day-to-day goal is to treat each patient with compassion and to encourage each of them to strive for and to enjoy a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. At PPC PAs and NPs work alongside our physicians to provide the most cost effective, comprehensive, and compassionate health care available.
EK: With a projected shortfall of 63,000 physicians and an additional 32 million Americans receiving health insurance by 2015, what role will PAs and NPs provide in the future?
David: Because of the high quality and cost effectiveness of PAs and NPs, there will be a growing demand for these advanced-practice providers in the future. In the new health care market these providers will continue to deliver comprehensive services in varied medical settings and in record numbers. The evolving nature of the health care industry will result in advanced-practice providers being integrated into every area of health care.
EK: What are your personal qualifications?
David: I completed the U.S. Army Physician Assistant Program and earned a Bachelor of Science Physician Assistant and Masters of Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Medicine. I completed the AMEDD Officer Basic Course as well as the Advanced Individual Training Medical Specialist Course at the Academy of Health Sciences, Fort Sam Houston. I worked as a U.S. Army Combat Medic in Korea and an Airborne Combat Medic at Fort Bragg, NC. I’ve served as Battalion Medical Officer in Iraq and Medical Officer in charge of two U.S. Army Battalions in Germany, and served a second time in Iraq as the Chief Medical Director, responsible for 2,000 soldiers and marines and 5,000 Iraqi military personnel. My military career was life changing for me as it exposed me to experiences that most medical professionals would not see in a lifetime. I also hold certifications from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Tennessee State Physician Assistant license, Basic and Advance Cardiac Life Support, Basic Trauma Life Support, and am a member of the American Association of Physician Assistants as well as the Tennessee Association of Physician Assistants. I have worked locally in ER/Trauma units as well as orthopedics and primary care.
EK: There has been a lot of negative media coverage recently about pain clinics. How does PPC view this issue?
David: I believe that all primary care providers have a responsibility to treat their patients up to the provider’s level of competence and expertise. Whenever a patient’s disease exceeds these levels, the practitioners need to have a place to refer them, just as referring uncontrolled diabetes to an endocrinologist, uncontrolled hypertension to a cardiologist, or uncontrolled pain to a certified pain specialist. Primary care practitioners should not avoid or allow the media to set medical protocols. Pain symptoms can be successfully treated at a primary care level. At PPC, if the medical need is severe or debilitating and/or requires a high level or long acting medication, we refer these patients to certified specialists who focus solely on that problem. In our practice, our focus is on treating the total patient with a wide range of options by utilizing physical therapy, therapeutic devices, injections, and counseling as a main line of defense for our patients who have pain. We do not, however, feel that pain medication is in and of itself a negative treatment if utilized correctly, closely monitored, and used with other beneficial forms of treatment.
EK: Explain your multi-tiered approach to health care using MDs, PAs, NPs.
David: We believe that by having MDs, PAs, and NPs working interdependently, we can provide the highest level of total patient care. With PAs and NPs working alongside our board certified MDs, we can offer the patient the most cost effective and comprehensive preventative, diagnostic, and medical care available.
EK: Describe the full level of services you provide at PPC and Urgent Care Across America (UCAA). Who is your target patient?
David: Our target patient is anyone that requires health care, from infants to octogenarians. We offer full service medical treatment on an ongoing, long-term basis through our staff of MDs, PAs and NPs, or through our referral network of specialists. In addition to basic treatment, diagnosis, and physicals, we also provide all laboratory analysis and x-ray, nerve conduction studies and analysis, allergy diagnostics and treatment, ABI analysis and treatment, as well as nutritional diagnosis, analysis, and direction. We also have an urgent care clinic, UCAA, located just off of I-75/I-40 at the Watt Road exit (#369) that is open 9:00 am–9:00 pm Monday through Saturday and 12:00–4:00 pm on Sunday for sick care or emergency treatment. No appointment is needed; just walk in.
EK: Can you tell us about PPC fundraising efforts on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and other charities?
David: PPC has a deep connection with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation because my youngest daughter has Type I diabetes. We have hosted Family Fun Fairs and walk team to raise money for our local JDRF for the last four years. Last year our fair raised over $5,000, and this year we hope to double that amount. We are so appreciative of the many businesses, our community, sponsors, and our employees who dedicate so much of their own time and financial resources to help with this great cause. We have also raised money and had a walk team for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk in 2011 and are proud of our sponsorship of several local teams, sports organizations, and school clubs. Recently we have contributed to an event in Morristown that benefits victims of domestic abuse and violence.
EK: Any final thoughts?
David: On behalf of our team of more than 60 compassionate health care providers at Prodigal Primary Care and myself, I’d like to thank all of you that have supported and encouraged our efforts to provide the highest quality of health care available in our community. We have been truly blessed.