Medicine man Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Health Services

Dr. Stephen F. Dickey thought he had a great idea, so in 1980, he left his position at St. Joseph’s Hospital to open a private urgent care center.

His colleagues were skeptical, and Dickey had to finance the building out of his own pocket, but he was convinced that there was a need for one-stop outpatient care for people with minor injuries and illnesses that didn’t warrant an emergency room visit.

The first Doctor’s Walk-In Clinic opened on Nov. 17, 1980, and saw seven patients the first day. The next day, Dickey saw two patients.

But during the second week of operation, the clinic netted a spot on the evening news, and that night, 27 patients came into his facility. The power of advertising became very clear to Dickey, and within 40 days, he needed to hire another physician to keep up. Within six months, the clinic was profitable, and expansion became a possibility.

While advertising was crucial to getting the word out, Dickey knew it would be the quality of care that would keep people coming back.

Today, each of his eight sites has at least one doctor, one registered nurse and an X-ray technician on staff. And radiologists are licensed, giving patients the peace of mind that they are being treated with top-notch service.

Dickey sold the business in 1996 but bought it back in 2000 when the new owner changed the focus to revenue generation and did not monitor billings and collections. After refocusing the business, he again recently sold it, this time to a private equity fund for about seven times what he paid for it in 2000.

The staff now exceeds 230, and Dickey says the goal must always be to provide the very best in care for the people who come to his clinics.

How to reach: Doctor’s Walk-In Clinic, (813) 289-8014 or