It’s not uncommon for people to leave their hometown only to come back to it later in their life. For HSNT’s Dr. Paul Starr, his journey began when he finished high school in Lewisville, Texas. After graduating from the University of Dallas in 1987 and completing medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in 1992, he finished his family medicine residency at John Peter Smith in Fort Worth in 1995. Dr. Starr then worked in emergency rooms for seven years.
“My graduating year was a strange year. Most of the people in my class didn’t wind up working for the people they initially wanted to work for, like me,” says Dr. Starr. “But I didn’t mind doing ER! It was very interesting work.”
After that Dr. Starr moved to Louisiana, where he was on faculty for LSU School of Medicine for the next 14 years. One of the many places he worked with was the Daughters of Charity Health Center, which is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) like HSNT. Then, Hurricane Katrina hit, severely impacting the entire state’s health system – but Dr. Starr stayed to help rebuild in a challenging 10-year aftermath.
“In Louisiana we were on paper when I started, and then we started with an electronic system, but then Katrina hit, and that clinic went underwater – literally!” says Dr. Starr. “I was working with them during the aftermath for about a year, and it took a long while to get that back. We even went back to using our old textbooks for reference during that time.”
Dr. Starr left LSU in 2016 and moved to Wisconsin where he worked for 6 months as a hospitalist before accepting a position as Medical Director for another FQHC on a Native American reservation for two years. But then, after a distress call from his own family doctor expressing concern over his aging parents’ condition, he decided it was time to return home.
So, once Dr. Starr finally returned to be closer to his parents, what brought him to HSNT?
“I’ve worked a lot with FQHCs in the past, and the patients interest me…and this was the closest one to my parent’s house!” Dr. Starr says with a laugh.
Since joining the HSNT team in September of 2019, Dr. Starr has been impressed with HSNT’s “forward-thinking approach” to technology and how it can serve both providers and patients to create the best experience. Specifically, HSNT’s new telehealth program has been something Dr. Starr was impressed with and enjoys using for his patients.
“I’ve done eight telehealth visits so far, and they’ve gone very nicely. HSNT was very fortunate in that when you chose this electronic system, this telehealth system was already there! You were just waiting to ‘flip the switch’. From my viewpoint, it seems like you guys turned on a dime and put it into action quickly. You made it look so easy even though I know you all were working very hard in the background.”
Dr. Starr knows that every person he sees has more going on than just their medical needs. Every patient is a complex puzzle, and every piece of information is valuable. He tries to establish an easy flow of conversation to help determine what is bothering a patient, and then they work together to place each problem in perspective and establish priorities and goals to solve them.
What many patients have said about Dr. Starr is that they love his wide knowledge of healthcare and his compassionate bedside manner – but he doesn’t want to take all the credit.
“HSNT isn’t an inpatient hospital, so the problems that our patients have are heavily reliant on those outpatient community resources. Those problems tend to be logistical, and social – many of our patients are in employment transitions, too. So, giving people insight into the resources that our community has is essential, and I certainly don’t do that by myself! At HSNT, it’s always a team effort.