The roots of Rome’s Harbin Clinic were planted in the Coosa Valley 150 years ago. Dr. Wylie Harbin moved his family from South Carolina to Northwest Georgia in 1871 and set up a medical practice in Gordon County, near Calhoun.
In 1908, the Harbin Hospital was organized in Rome by two of his sons, Dr. Robert M. Harbin and Dr. William P. Harbin. Less than a decade later, a new four-story hospital was built adjacent to the original building near the First Presbyterian Church.
Fast forward more than a century, and not to overstate the obvious, but the Harbin Clinic, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ed McBride, doesn’t look anything like it did when it was founded. “As we continue to grow, it’s a priority that we remain good stewards of the legacy established before us. It’s important that we carry the clinic’s founding principles with us into the future and yet, continue to innovate so we can best care for our patients.”
If there is a silver lining to the pandemic of the last two years, it has furthered the use of telemedicine as a tool for providing care to patients. “I think that there are other ways that healthcare is likely to evolve that we can’t even fathom right now based on where technology is,” McBride said. However, many of the physicians in the clinic have latched on to technologies to provide care that better met both their needs and their patient’s needs.
“I don’t think in any way telemedicine will supplant the provision of care face to face, it’s a great tool to have in our toolbox,” Dr. McBride said.
Harbin CEO Kenna Stock said that the pandemic has accentuated a lot of innovation operationally. She said that other administrators have done a lot of work around how the clinic operates most effectively, not only with technology or other tools, but also caring for their people, who she considers the most important resource at the Harbin Clinic.
“I think that there are some new and novel ways, even new job descriptions that are emerging out of the issues that have surfaced during the pandemic,” Stock said. McBride added that some of the new emerging positions provide an opportunity for some folks who didn’t have a background in healthcare education or advanced degrees to get into healthcare and maybe a launching point for a healthcare career.
CEO Stock said that she feels employees at the clinic’s main office at 1825 Martha Berry Boulevard probably feel like there is always something going on to make the facility a better experience for both employees and patients. Discussing growth, Stock shared that the clinic welcomed 11 new physicians in 2021. These physicians care for patients at multiple locations throughout Northwest Georgia in primary care and specialty practices. “The next generation is coming along to care for people and it’s evident that they have a heart for service,” said Stock. “These talented new physicians have the opportunity to work in an advanced and collaborative medical community while simultaneously experiencing the benefits and joys of a small town.” Additionally, she shared that the clinic plans to continue office renovations and expansions to provide more enhanced and seamless visits for their patients.
McBride said the way patients experience healthcare is more collaborative and he shared that the longstanding partnerships with regional healthcare systems will continue to be an important benefit for patients.
“We’ll always be trying to keep pace with technology, making sure that the equipment that we have in place is best in class and providing the best equipment to take care of our patients,” said Stock.
Harbin Clinic is a unique entity in the healthcare industry today in that it is physician-owned, physician-led, physician- governed, and professionally managed. Stock shared that this operational model allow physicians to be engaged with the clinic’s daily decisions and direction and helps them recruit outstanding young physicians to take the clinic into its next 150 years.
The day-to-day decisions about patient care and long-term decisions related to the clinic’s future are vested in the physicians who are involved in every aspect of the clinic’s operations.
The Board of Directors includes nine primary care and specialty physicians and President and Chairman of the Board, Ken Davis, M.D. Physicians lead much of the managerial leadership from technology to finance and hospital relationships supported by a professional administrative staff.
The Greater Rome community gives new medical professionals proximity to many of the benefits of city life. Whether that’s Atlanta, Chattanooga, or even Birmingham to a lesser degree, it is attractive to people. “Most of these individuals have trained in big cities and have decided that they want to establish new roots in a smaller town like Rome. That is the one thing that Dr. McBride and I hear over and over again,” Stock said.
The clinic, which has more than 250 healthcare providers spread across more than 40 specialties at 21 locations, has added 11 new physicians this year, almost twice as many as they do in a typical year.
For more information, visit harbinclinic.com.