Thirty years ago, a three-person medical practice started in Westfield.
Now, the operation has more than 90 employees and five locations.
Family Health Medical Services started in October 1982 when Dr. Robert Berke moved from Quebec, Canada, with his wife and children to Westfield. Berke responded to be a primary care physician in Westfield and to also be the county's public health commissioner. A role he served for 26 years.
Far left, Dr. Robert Berke with Family Health Medical Services staff members at the business’s Dunham Avenue office.
P-J photo by Dennis Phillips
He started right away as the county's health commissioner and opened his Westfield office a few months later. From there, the former Canadian country doctor from south of Montreal moved his practice to Mayville in 1996. Since then, Berke has also opened offices in Panama, on Dunham Avenue, Jamestown and two practices - convenience and primary care facilities - on Prather Avenue in Jamestown.
The business has around 97 employees, which includes 20 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as clinical, support and administrative staff. Services include annual and periodic preventive health services, routine child and adult care, prompt sick and emergency care, newborn services, employment and education physicals, pain management, chronic disease management and support, and nursing home care.
Along with Berke, Dr. Alexander Selioutski and Dr. Albert Persia also lead the primary care team.
Family Health Medical Services also offers specialized treatment for patients. From programs to battle obesity to diabetes to addiction, the practice offers a variety of medical services to help people live a better life. Along with primary care physicians, the practice started the first convenience care facility in the county. Danni Wahl, Family Health Medical Services convenience care facility manager and marketing manager, said there was a need for a medical provider to offer services when people's primary care physician may not be available.
''We opened up the convenience care to serve all people in the community,'' she said. ''As soon as we see a need, we expand to provide that service. 'What can we do to help?' is our philosophy.''
In addition to celebrating 30 years of service this year, the practice has also earned certification as a Patient Centered Medical Home. The certification illustrates a model of care that emphasizes a partnership between providers and their patients to achieve high-quality care. In the family-oriented environment, the staff works in partnership with patients to promote and protect good health. Along with patients, physicians explore a variety of approaches to treatment. Patients receive health- and disease-related education. Preventive health services are offered to every patient while respecting a patient's individual beliefs.
''That is our goal to be someone's medical home,'' Berke said. ''Our philosophy has always been the same, we see everybody. We try to provide care to the most needy to those just needing a routine check-up. We keep our doors open to everyone.''
STILL LOVES HELPING PEOPLE
Family Health Medical Services receives between 7,000 to 8,000 calls a week. Berke said the operation has 14 managers making business decisions.
''It is amazing what is required to run the operation. I never though it would be like this It is way beyond what I ever though,'' he said. ''I've gone from a little mom-and-pop practice to a business that provides health care, and provides it effectively.''
Even with the responsibilities and pressure of running a multi-layered medical operation, Berke still enjoys his job.
''I like coming to work each day. How many people can say that after working as long as I have?'' he said. ''It is a very nice atmosphere to work in. I want the employees to feel the same way. At the end of the day, people have to like what they do.''
To show how thankful he is for his practice, Berke will be hosting a patient appreciation day in all Family Health Medical Services offices Wednesday.
''Without the patients we wouldn't be able to do it without their support,'' Wahl said. ''I think we have been successful because of our caring and nurturing staff. There is a deep-caring relationship with each patient.''
For more information, visit www.fhmsmed.com.