When Dr. Casey Locarnini, aka Dr. Loc, and his wife, Roxanne, opened Dunwoody Urgent Care in 2005, they blazed a trail by offering a whole new level of medical care to nearby residents. Located in the heart of Dunwoody at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody roads, their clinic provided walk-in care for everything from school physicals to broken bones, basically anything that didn’t require immediate hospitalization.
“Dunwoody didn’t have an urgent care clinic, and I saw the need,” said Dr. Loc, a former U.S. Navy emergency room physician. “I wanted to have more of a connection in the community. We started Dunwoody Urgent Care as a niche between the primary care physician’s office and the ER.”
Even though corporate medical chains have recently opened urgent care centers nearby, Dunwoody Urgent Care has successfully served over 45,000 patients in over 90,000 visits since its founding. I personally don’t know a family in the area that hasn’t had someone treated by Dr. Loc.
Though he trained in the Navy, Dr. Loc’s inspiration comes from his father, a traditional small-town doctor in rural California.
“When I was growing up in Sonoma, the population was only about 5,000,” he said. “I learned from my father that medicine is fundamentally about a long-term relationship between the physician and the patient.”
For the past 17 years, Dr. Loc has lived that philosophy by forming relationships with his patients and sponsoring and donating his services to events and institutions they care about – from Lemonade Days and the Dunwoody Nature Center to local school teams and events.
As his reputation spread and primary care practices increasingly consolidated into larger corporate entities with shorter office visits and longer wait times for appointments, his Dunwoody Urgent Care patients began asking him to become their primary care physician.
“Dunwoody Urgent Care isn’t set up for primary care,” he said, but he understood their frustration and wanted to fill the gap with “the old-fashioned medical care” he learned from his father.
“I wanted to spend more time with them and focus on prevention and wellness,” he said, while offering state-of-the-art onsite technology.
So, on July 11, he and Roxanne opened Dunwoody Direct Primary Care (Dunwoody DPC) in the adjoining office space, where they are once again blazing a trail by offering a mix of the latest medical technology and the personalized care of his boyhood.
“Most large primary care groups allow appointments of only seven to eight minutes,” he said. “Ours will be 45 minutes to an hour. I think most PCPs want to deliver that quality of care, but the system doesn’t allow them to.”
In fact, while most primary care physicians in large practices see up to 2,000 patients a year, Dr. Loc plans to see no more than 300 a year, with same-day or next-day appointments the rule rather than the exception.
So, how’s he going to do it?
By offering memberships.
“We’re simplifying healthcare,” he said.
Memberships are limited so that he will have no more than eight patients a day. In addition to in-person appointments, patients can also be treated by telemedicine and phone. They will all have his personal mobile number and email address, by which he plans to be reachable even in the evenings and on weekends. Parking is free, and everything from office visits and physical exams to routine lab work and X-rays is included at no extra charge.
Dunwoody DPC will initially offer two types of memberships, for ages 18-25 and 26-64. The practice doesn’t accept insurance or Medicare, though Medicare is possible soon. It doesn’t accept children either.
“I’m not a pediatrician,” he said, “and access to pediatricians is generally better than to PCPs.”
Dr. Loc doesn’t expect members to give up their regular medical insurance, though some of his younger members may. He envisions most patients keeping their medical insurance but opting for higher deductibles and lower premiums and using their insurance for catastrophic care only. He also sees memberships as an option for small businesses seeking more affordable employee healthcare plans.
“Same-day or next-day appointments are especially useful to small businesses,” he said. “If someone gets hurt at work and you don’t know whether or not to invoke your workers’ comp insurance, we can see the employee and help determine how serious it is.”
Though Dunwoody DPC is now open, a grand opening is planned for later in August. For details, visit dunwoodydpc.com.