When Dr. Michael Molitor and Maria Thomae decided to join Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace, it was to return to the kind of care they wanted to give.
Molitor, a family practice physician, will serve the community health center in Wrens and Thomae, a women’s health nurse practitioner, will help it provide women’s services and eventually prenatal care.
Medical Associates will hold a grand opening today of its gleaming new two-story clinic building, which was funded by a $4.9 million grant through the Affordable Care Act.
Molitor and Thomae sat Friday on the second floor, where women’s health will be provided, as workers continued to stock exam rooms and move items over from the old clinic next door.
Molitor had been working in the emergency room in Thomson but wanted to get back to his roots in family medicine. He is joining the practice of Dr. James M. Ford, a longtime community physician in Wrens whose practice Medical Associates has assumed.
Living 15 minutes away in McDuffie County, Molitor said he considers it part of his community.
“That was a governing factor for my ever entering medicine is to be of service to the community in which I live rather than simply someone who travels to a place to make work,” he said.
There are a lot of factors, financial and regulatory, that can interfere in the physician-patient relationship, but Molitor said his hope is that it can still be sustained.
“The hope is that physicians who appreciate patients as people will continue to have enough influence that folks will feel like they are indeed receiving care and not simply receiving services,” he said.
After nine years in private practice in Augusta, Thomae said she was looking to do more as well.
“I have always liked to work in areas where people need the care,” she said. “What I was lacking was that population that really needs the care and there really isn’t a lot for them.”
Her joining the center will allow greater focus on women’s health “to address some of the issues” the center wants to address, said CEO Janice Sherman. That will include prenatal care and the center is working on, finding a provider to do the actual deliveries, she said.
Thomae, who will work part-time in Wrens, said prenatal care has been a problem despite the resources in Augusta.
“It’s getting better as far as prenatal care, but there’s still a lack of it,” she said. “You might see more in Wrens, in the rural areas, where they start their prenatal care late because they don’t know where to get their Medicaid, they don’t know where to sign up, they don’t know what to do.”