In an effort to bring a new form of primary care to patients in the area, Dr. Melinda Cail, an Oklahoma Christian University alumna, has worked in the Edmond and Oklahoma City metro for 20 years and is now taking her medical profession in a new direction.
Cail attended Oklahoma Christian for her undergraduate degree, where her father, James Cail, was a professor of psychology. Cail did her residency training at Great Plains Family Practice at Baptist Hospital and Deaconess Hospital. After working in Norman, OK for two years she moved to Edmond, OK, working at Mercy Hospital for over 10 years, and is now beginning her new venture with Primary Health Partners.
“With direct primary care, every office visit was covered in the membership fee,” Cail said. “People pay their monthly membership fee and office visits are included in that price and there is no charge for immunizations, injections, stitching someone up or other things we might do.”
Primary Health Partners, Cail’s newest endeavor, is a direct primary care with an aim to remove the impersonal care of corporate medicine, replacing it with more transparent, personal care. One of the ways they do this is by charging a membership fee of $70 per month, much like a gym.
“Everything we do is not about generating revenue, but helping patients, which I love,” Cail said. “Someone can come see me once a month or five times a month and the cost is the same.”
According to Cail, she was a very successful doctor at Mercy Hospital, overseeing several committees. Cail said she had the respect of her peers and colleagues and was on the fast track to become the next President of Primary Care at Mercy Hospital. Yet, she said she knew this was not the full extent of God’s calling in her life.
“I had been feeling for a couple of years like I needed to be doing something more, looking around and thinking, ‘Is this it?’” Cail said. “I feel like my calling is here with the people of Edmond and of Oklahoma. Last year, I looked around and I thought, ‘I am 42 years old, my life is halfway over,’ and I thought, ‘What in the world am I supposed to be doing?’”
Cail said her soon-to-be partners suddenly called her after 10 years and asked if she knew anything about direct primary care and invited her to Yukon, OK for a visit. What began as an obligatory meeting with old friends ended with Cail deciding to leave Mercy to begin a new chapter in her life.
“On that day, there was an ice storm and I thought, ‘Hell has frozen over. I am leaving Mercy,’” Cail said. “I get to serve a portion of the population that has been ignored and had no access to medical care for so long. I have always felt like medicine was my mission field, but now I feel like this particular form of medicine is my mission field. What I was doing before was essentially making money for a hospital, and now I am really serving patients. I make half of what I used to now, and I don’t even care. I wake up in the morning and think, ‘Man, I get to go make people happy all day long.’ It is like I have a renewed zest for medicine.”
Cail said a large reason she enjoys primary care is how it makes healthcare for the middle class more attainable. There is no upcharge for the medicines offered or services rendered. Cail said she recommends this service for college students or young professionals.
“With so much change going on with healthcare reform, this is perfect for someone who has no insurance or has a high deductible,” Cail said. “Patients feel like they are just coming to my house to hang out, rather than rushing to the next in line and 15 people in the waiting room sneezing and spreading their germs.”
Taking her education from Oklahoma Christian into the world of medicine, Cail said she encourages students to remember that, while medicine is really important, they should not lose sight of the bigger picture.
“It is a very rewarding profession, but it is also just a profession,” Cail said. “You can’t lose sight of your family and faith. Enjoy your youth and experience at Oklahoma Christian. It equips you well to serve others on a grand scale if you use those gifts wisely.”