Plum Health doctor hopes to bring more doctors, better health to Detroit

Plum Health doctor hopes to bring more doctors, better health to Detroit

Dr. Paul Thomas is on a mission – he wants to not only increase the health of his patients, but he wants to improve the health and lives of all of the city of Detroit.

Dr. Thomas is the head physician at Detroit’s Plum Health, a family medical practice. His goal is to be an old-fashioned community doctor, the kind that is a resource for the community and its patients. That means being available day or night, answering questions and embracing the neighborhood where he practices medicine.

Dr. Paul Thomas is an advocate of a personal patient-doctor relationship predicated on establishing lasting connections with the patients he serves (it’s working).

Detroit has a true need for more physicians to work in the city, Dr. Thomas believes. According to his research with the Detroit Health Department, there are roughly 50-100 primary care doctors in Detroit. For a city of 683,000 people, that’s about one doctor for every 6,000-12,000 residents.

Data released by the American Academy of Family Physicians reveals that an increase in one primary care doctor per 10,000 people reduces hospital admissions by 5.5 percent, ER visits by 10.9 percent and surgeries by 7.2 percent.

That is one reason why Dr. Thomas is making the rounds in newspapers, blogs and podcasts to get his message out. It is a message he has believed in since he was a teenager.

When he was 17, he started volunteering at Cass Community Social Services, specifically the Cass Clinic in Midtown Detroit. He credits his mentor, Dr. Costea, for teaching him about the importance of compassion while taking care of Detroit’s most vulnerable population.

“I learned so much while taking care of the homeless and uninsured people that went to Cass Clinic for care, literally their only option. I came away with a greater sense of compassion and understanding,” Dr. Thomas says. “I also knew that there would be no better place for me to learn and grow than Wayne State University.”

Dr. Thomas attended Wayne State’s School of Medicine from 2009 – 2013, and became integrated into the fabric of the community by volunteering throughout the city: free clinics, urban farms, soup kitchens, community clean-ups, health fairs, and tutoring students in the Detroit Public Schools. He says these rich experiences gave him a deep appreciation for the city.

He recently completed my residency training at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, and in his final year I served as Chief Resident. It was during this experience and others that he saw that there are several flaws in the current Fee-for-Service system.

With Plum Health, Dr. Thomas said he want to deliver high quality service while giving back to the community.

“I truly believe that Direct Primary Care is a better and more patient-centered way to practice medicine. DPC allows for more time with your doctor, greater responsiveness to your needs, and a restoration of the doctor-patient relationship,” he says.

Dr. Thomas recently was a guest on “Detroit is Different,” a podcast hosted by hip-hop artist and Detroit advocate Khary WAE Frazier, an editorial partner of TheHUB. The podcast serves as a “a home for the people and places that enrich the culture of Detroit. Through creative revisions, personal experience, imaginative tales, and future opportunity; Detroit is Different comes to life.

“We dove into his Grandparents’ ties from Eastern Europe to Hamtramck and Eastside Detroit,” Frazier said. They also talked about the doctor’s connection to Detroit City Football Club Le Rouge. The conversation covered a variety of topics, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease as well as getting healthy and staying healthy.

Photos courtesy of Plum Health.


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