The relocation of Apalachicola family practitioner David Newton M.D. this month to a practice in Port St. Joe signals a change to primary care in Franklin and Gulf counties.
Weems Memorial Hospital is reassuring Franklin County patients that all their primary care needs will be met by its existing providers as they continue to seek a replacement for Newton.
Dr. Newton had worked for the past three years as a member of TMH Physician Partners in space that TMH rented at both the Weems East clinic in Carrabelle and the Weems West clinic in Apalachicola.
The last day Newton will see patients in Franklin County will be Friday, Dec. 15, and a week later, on Friday, Dec. 22, TMH Physician Partners’ operations in the county will conclude.
“The closure of TMH Physician Partners in Franklin County will not impact operations of Weems Medical Center East in Carrabelle or Weems Medical Center West in Apalachicola,” wrote Kristy Terry, a spokeswoman for Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. “These two clinics will continue to provide primary care and are accepting new patients.
“TMH will continue to work closely with Weems Memorial Hospital and other regional healthcare organizations,” she wrote. “TMH is a dedicated regional partner committed to expanding access to care and being a resource for our surrounding rural communities.”
Beginning on Jan. 1, Newton will join Ascension Medical Group’s regional network of doctors, Sacred Heart Primary Care – Port St. Joe, in offices at 3871 East U.S. 98, Suite 203, and at Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf.
He will be part of the team that includes Rachel Bixler, MD, and Nancy Anderson, DNP, APRN. A fourth provider will be joining the practice in March 2024.
In an interview last week, Weems CEO David Walker stressed that Weems two advanced practice registered nurses – Dana Whaley and Sussete Valdueza – and Skip Parker, a certified physician assistant, will continue to see patients at the two clinics, under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Conrad.
“Our goal is to create access to care,” he said. “They are here to continue to do that.”
Walker praised the work of Newton over the past three years, after he was recruited by the hospital from Montana.
“He was excellent, people loved him,” said Walker, stressing that Weems is in the process of recruiting Newton’s successor, who would likely be directly employed by the hospital.
He said student loan forgiveness as well as finding a foreign-trained physician are two options Weems may draw upon in its recruitment effort. He also said that TMH continues to have a hands-on role with hospital needs, including handling patient transfers, employee training, and aspects of purchasing and protocols.
Newton earned his medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he also obtained his master’s degree in pharmacology. He received his bachelor’s degree in molecular and microbiology from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Board-certified in family medicine and a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Florida Medical Association, Newton completed his residency in rural family medicine at AnMed Family Medicine and Seneca Lakes Rural Family Medicine, where he was chief resident for two years.
“Dr. Newton is dedicated to advancing Rural Full Spectrum family medicine with a particular emphasis on optimizing patients with underlying pathology,” wrote Ascension Sacred Heart in a news release. “His proactive approach centers on preventative medicine, aiming to thwart diseases before their onset. Driven by the profound adage: “Let food be thy medicine,” he advocates for a healthy lifestyle that incorporates healthy nutrition and encourages regular exercise.”
The release said Newton enjoys hunting and fly fishing, as well as photography to capture the beauty of nature. Additionally, he is an avid practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, channeling his enthusiasm for martial arts to promote both physical fitness and mental resilience.
While patients of Newton may follow him to Port St. Joe, and he will be accepting new patients, those insured by Capital Health Plan will not be able to see him as their in-network provider since CHP only goes as far west as Franklin County.
The release said those patients can make appointments with Ryan Pharr, DO and Angela Scholl, ARNP at Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart Primary Care – Apalachicola at 55 Avenue East. Appointments can be made online at ascension.org/doctors or by calling 850-370-1000.
Franklin County patients can call the Weems clinics in Apalachicola or Carrabelle for more information on services or to make an appointment. Weems Medical Center East is at 850-697-2345, and Weems Medical Center West is at 850-653-1525.
For information or to schedule an appointment with Newton in Port St. Joe, call 850-229-5661.