ALBANY — Dr. Samuel Williams is a young physician looking for a fresh start. He also has an innovative idea for making health care accessible to low-income populations.
An Albany resident since 2014, Williams, 36, has established Williams Geriatric Medicine and Medical Services PC to spring to life a primary care setting through which he said he would introduce the “$1 a minute visit” clinic in Albany if his plan is approved by state medical officials.
In order to implement this, he is to go before the State Medical Education Board for approval. He is without an office space, so he is expecting to either conduct home visits or set up a tent in order to provide care once he is able to finalize his malpractice insurance coverage.
A board eligible internist and geriatrician, Williams trained at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., Boston Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. He received his medical education with the help of the Country Doctors Scholarship.
He has had previous employment stints in rural Georgia, including Albany Area Primary Health Care, Miller County Hospital and Jefferson Hospital.
“I learned a tremendous amount about taking care of patients in rural areas,” he said.
The father of three, currently living in East Albany, he said he wanted to take a bold step in helping patients who might otherwise have limited to no access to care. He immediately thought of telemedicine, for which he is currently working to acquire some equipment so he can add that as a component to the practice with the help of a friend in California.
He also refers to the “$1 a minute visit” as the “$10 visit,” which theoretically means a patient should be able to get in and out of a clinical setting quickly.
“I am trying to help people. I am not trying to get rich,” Williams said. “(I want to establish something) where they can access it as cheap as possible.”
Williams wanted to be a doctor because of an accident his mother had as a young girl that resulted in her being burned.
“I told her I wanted to be a doctor ‘so I can make you better,’” he said.
Now that he has the medical degree, he said he has an interest in reducing the primary care physician shortage — and he thinks Albany is the ideal place to do that. Apart from AAPHC, he also has working experience in Albany through a monthly commitment to the Samaritan Clinic.
“I am used to the patient population,” he said.
While seeking approval from the state, he also is hoping to get the backing of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. His turn before the medical education board will be this week, during which Williams hopes the board will have a favorable view of his method for caring for Albany’s ill.
“Patients need physicians who are down to earth,” he said. “Just give me a rusty exam bed and I’ll see what I can do. I’ll put a tent in the flea market.”
Williams is a proponent of home visits, which he has first-hand experience with from his time in Baltimore and found helpful in caring for patients.
“In patient visits, you are treating them in your environment and it creates a different dynamic,” he said. “(During a home visit), you are in their domain.”
As far as the future is concerned, Williams’ plan is to go one step at a time and maintain a sense of faith.
“If I do the best job at being a good doctor, things will unroll as they are supposed to,” he said.
His three children range from ages 1 to 12, and he says he has $200,000 in student loans. He can relate to what it is like to stretch a penny.
“I know how expensive medical bills can be,” Williams said. “I’m just trying to get started. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that everyone needs health care.”
Williams said he could get things going in the next few months, assuming he is able to get the equipment and final approval needs.
“My goal is to provide the best primary care possible,” he said. (As far as the future), I want to take it one day at a time and see what happens.
“Hopefully they (the state officials) will be receptive to it.”
Many in the area are trying to get back on their feet and continue to make ends meet, and someone without a strong mind or body cannot achieve that. This is the mindset Williams operates under, and he says it has served him effectively.
“Medicine has been OK, better than OK, actually,” he said.
Regarding the changes taking place in the health care industry, he said: “Keeping up with the changes in medicine is more than enough.”
The intention, while caring for patients, is to build a staff and support network as Williams’ presence grows, surrounding himself with others who know the industry well.
Another location Williams has worked at is McKinney Medical Center in Waycross. A representative from McKinney could not be reached for comment by The Albany Herald on Williams.