Mecklenburg County is home to two large and competitive health care systems – Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health.
Each owns multiple hospitals and doctors’ offices and offers a wide range of state-of-the-art services, for everything from cancer and heart disease to pediatrics and maternity care.
Carolinas HealthCare is a nonprofit government entity, one of the largest public hospital systems in the country. It owns or manages about 40 hospitals from the North Carolina mountains to the South Carolina coast. The flagship and the largest hospital in the chain is Carolinas Medical Center, which has the region’s only Level I trauma center and organ transplant program.
Novant, a private nonprofit system based in Winston-Salem, owns 14 hospitals in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia. The system owns four hospitals in Mecklenburg – Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital, Novant Health Matthews Medical Center and Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center.
Other hospitals in the Charlotte region are CaroMont Regional Medical Center, operated by private, nonprofit CaroMont Health in Gaston County, Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, owned by the for-profit Tenet Healthcare, and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville, owned by for-profit Health Management Associates.
Finding a doctor
Mecklenburg hospital systems have websites that can help patients find medical doctors in their hospital-owned practices.
• For Carolinas HealthCare, go to www.carolinashealthcare.org/physician-directory.
• For Novant Health, see www.novanthealth.org/doctor.
The Mecklenburg County Medical Society and the Charlotte Dental Society can also help find doctors and dentists. Call 704-376-3688 for the medical society; 704-376-6555 for the dental society.
Most area medical doctors are employed by hospital systems. That gives them freedom from administrative duties and overhead, and they can also share on-call duties with colleagues. But in many instances, this also means the cost of care is higher, and they may have less time to spend with patients.
Doctors who own their own practices struggle with increasing government regulation and decreasing reimbursement from insurance companies. They typically charge less and can spend more time with patients. About 100 doctors in the Mecklenburg area are members of Independent Physicians of the Carolinas. See www.findcarolinasdoctors.org.
Licensure and complaints
Licensing boards in North Carolina and South Carolina keep tabs on doctors, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, pharmacists and other health-care professionals.
You can find out about licensure status and disciplinary history by checking websites for specific professions. If you have the problem with a health-care professional, you can file a formal complaint and ask for an investigation by the appropriate regulatory body.
Here are some licensing boards in the Carolinas:
• North Carolina Medical Board: 919-326-1100; 800-253-9653; www.ncmedboard.org.
• South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners: 803-896-4500; www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/medical.
• North Carolina Board of Nursing: 919-782-3211; www.ncbon.com.
• South Carolina Board of Nursing: 803-896-4550; www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/nursing.
• North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners: 919-678-8223; www.ncdentalboard.org.
• North Carolina Board of Pharmacy: 919-246-1050; www.ncbop.org.
• North Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners: www.ncchiroboard.com.
• South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation: 803-896-4300; www.llr.state.sc.us.
The Charlotte region is home to more than a dozen medical doctors who have completed fellowships at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the nation’s leading proponents of integrative medicine.
They include Drs. Russell Greenfield, Sheila Kilbane, Margaret Divish, Amy Fletcher, Jennifer Griffin, Eric Brown, Katherine Pierce, Paras Mehta and Michele Birch in Charlotte, Victoria Garriett Lampkin in Huntersville, Bridget Bongaard and James Scheer in Concord, Christopher Stephenson in Monroe, and Chris Magryta and Kathleen Russo in Salisbury.
(See www.integrativemedicine.arizona.edu for a list of Weil fellowship graduates by state.)
Acupuncturists are licensed by the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board ( www.ncalb.com), and massage therapists are licensed by the North Carolina Board of Massage and Body Work Therapy ( www.bmbt.org).
Other alternative practitioners, such as naturopaths and homeopaths, do not have licensing boards in North Carolina. A good way to find one is by word of mouth, through friends or other health-care professionals. Several who have been active in forums organized by Kilbane in recent years are acupuncturist Deleon Best in Cornelius, naturopath Michael Smith in Matthews, and homeopath Naomi Zeskind in Charlotte.
Also, Lori Ives-Godwin, a Charlotte resident who has benefited from integrative medicine, lists many practitioners on her website, www.yourcommunityconnector.com.
Karen is the Observer’s medical writer.
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