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Summit Medical Center Expanding

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The S u m m i t Medical Center Inc., whose family practice physicians administer largely to the needs of area disadvantagéd persons, expects to open a new unit at 3174 Packard Rd. in the next few weeks. Opening of the unit attests to what Dr. Edward C. Pierce, the center's founder, calis the center's "great success but a lot of work" in administering to a constantly growing patiënt load now represented by about 2,000 patiënt visits per month. Albert J. Coudron, local pharmacist and chairman of the non-profit corporation's board, said the new unit could open for dental patients by July 15 and for medical patients in August if city approval for renovation changes are obtained in time. The center will receive $30,000 for dentistry and $20,000 for medicine from federal revenue sharing through the city to help defray equipment and operations costs of the new unit. In addition, a fund drive got under way last week to provide for a social worker and an outreach nurse, according to Dr. Pierce. But doctors at the new Summit Medical Center II, as at Summit Medical Center I in an old house at 704 Spring St., won't wear white coats because the eenter's general practice physicians believe this "status symbol" widens the "distance" and curtails communication between patiënt and doctor. This, however, is not the only difference between the Summit Medical Center and the usual medical clinic or group family practice facility. A recent visit to the Spring Street facility pointed up the dissimilarities. On a wall of the patient-crowded waiting and reception areas in the former living room of the old home where black and white children played together on the floor, were scores of photographs qïT'o tra-g patients. Medical education bulletins and scribbled notes of interest to patients and staff were tacked on hallway and room walls everywhere. Í While cleanliness prevailed throughout, there was none of the antiseptic whiteness or stiff formality so typical of many medical facilities. You couldn't teil a doctor, nurse or laboratory technician from a patiënt without a score card, and an atmosphere of relaxed friendliness permiated the whole place. Marcia Barrabee, who does all the bookkeeping and ordering for the center and served as guide for a tour of the facility, opened a door leading into i a small storage space under a stairway. This was where Dr. Jerry Walden, Dr. Pierces' longtime colleague, formerly had his office, she said. There was room for a small desk and telephone but no room for a chair, so he had to stand, she added. The new shared doctor's office at 704 Spring is bigger, but it is still a "cubby hole" of a room just large enough to squeeze in a desk and chair without much room to spare. But typical of the Summit Medical Center, the staff is willing to give up space and conveniences for the benefit of their patiénts, and the "six examining rooms are as large as in many other family practice medical centers. Thëre is also an emergency room and two small laboratories in which laboratory technician Jay Smith works. Occupying basement space, in addition to one of the tiny laboratories, is an obstetrics classroom "where classes are especially geared to the needs of our women, many of whom are not married," Mrs. Barrabee said. She noted that weight watchers classes and follow up classes for new mothers are also held in the room. Family practice doctors on the staff, in addition to Pierce and Walden, are Drs. Orzie Henderson and Richard Katzman, two of whom are on duty at a time while ;he others make hospital rounds and fill in during evening hours. Dr. R. E. Reichert Jr., St. Joseph Mercy Hospital cardiologist, serves as consultant on heart disease cases. Dr. Walden and Dr. David Lyman who recently interned at St. Joseph Hospital, will be the general practitioner staff doctors at Summit Medical Center II when it opens. A senior medical student from the University of Michigan Medical School is assigned each year to do field work at the center and aid the physicians. Other staff members include tered nurses S. ÍE. Lewis and Gladys I Knoll, and pediatrie nurse practitioner I Francés Vaughn who supervises the well I baby check-ups. Registered nurses Betty I Kemnitz and Lillian Wright provide their I servic'es on a part-time basis. Lillis I James, an EKG technician at St. Joseph I Hospital, provides services at the center I twice a week. Office staff members, in addition to Mrs. Barrabee, are Dorothy Jones, Judith Coleman, and Mary Lee Pierce, the wife of the founder. Three local social workers visit the center on a once-aweek basis, two of whom volunteer their services, with the third being paid by the Child and Family Service of Washtenaw County, according to Mrs. Barrabee. Other workers are Joan Adams and Mandy Leavey. This is a greatly enlarged staff from the time Dr. Pierce, former city councilman and one time unsuccessful candidate for mayor, gave up a successful private practice to found the center in 1968 in another old house on Summit Street. Then he only had four part-time workers to assist him. He was joined by Dr. Walden in the summer of 1969, prior to the center's move in 1971 to its present quarters, and since then the staff has continued tq grow. Many area physicians and others were at first apalled by Dr. Pierce's unorthodox, non-estabiishment methods and personal appearance, and skeptical of his success. While they admired him for taking a big cut in income to work on a salaried basis in treating low income people on a sliding fee scale according to their earnings and family size, he no longer quite fitted in with the group. But that skepticism has since largely faded, and Dr. Pierce now says "the rerelationship between our center and the medical community is pretty good." He has proved to himself and a lot of others that his methods work with the people he provides health care for, and the community has responded with donations to help support the Summit Medical Center. Even though Medicade and revenue sharing, along with patiënt f ees, keeps the center going, donations are needed for eqvtipment and services not covered by these sources of funding. Improvement in the quality of care for the underprivileged who come from Ypsilanti, Dexter, Brighton and other surrounding communities as well as Ann Arbor, depends a lot on the generosity of area citizens. _