Neurosurgeon glad to be in Greenwood

By BOB DARDEN Staff Writer The Greenwood Commonwealth

For the past two months, he has led the Greenwood Leflore Neurosurgery Clinic.

Clark, 63, was president of the Neurosurgical Center of Southaven before moving to Greenwood, where he rejoined his one-time partner from the center, Dr. Jimmy Miller.

“We had talked about us reassociating, either his coming to Southaven or me coming here. As it worked out, I came here,” Clark said.

Clark said the move to Greenwood was in part the result of the federal Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” being implemented beginning in 2014. “In these days and times, with Obamacare and all of that, solo private practices, I think, are disappearing,” he said.

The red tape and bureaucracy related to the law are major concerns, but the lack of people with health insurance remains his biggest concern.

“I don’t know, it would just be my opinion, but I think that instead of more people under coverage, we’re going to see fewer people have insurance coverage,” he said.

He said he feared the Affordable Care Act would make insurers do “community rating” instead of “experience rating.”

Under “experience rating,” someone who is “hypertensive, diabetic and obese and in poor health and had 16 surgeries” doesn’t pay the same premiums as someone the same age, race and sex who is healthier, he said. By contrast, “under community rating, if you are the same age, race and sex, both of those people are going to pay the same premium,” he said.

It’s simple economics, he said.“You and I know the insurance companies are not going to charge the sick guy the lower premium;  they’re going to charge the well guy the higher premium,” Clark said. “With those higher premiums, I think you’re going to see people who can’t afford health insurance.”

He said healthy people will be forced to choose between priorities, such as a mortgage note or other expenses, and might opt not to have insurance coverage.“Most everyone knows, if they go to the emergency room, they are going to be cared for,” he said. “That’s certainly not the best health care.”

Winston Craig Clark, a native of Harlan, Ky., grew up at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. His family had many duty stations, but he was able to graduate from high school in Macon, Ga.He earned an associate’s degree in engineering from Middle Georgia College in 1969 and a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Georgia Tech in 1971. He went on to earn a master’s degree in hospital administration from Georgia State University in 1973,  a doctorate in health care administration from the University of Mississippi in 1975 and a medical degree from the University of Tennessee at Memphis in 1982.

As an administrator, Clark first worked as an administrative resident at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. He later held leadership positions at Lift Inc. of Tupelo, Memphis Health Center and the Primary Health Care Center at the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University. He served as president of Mid-South Health Care Consulting Consortium of Memphis beginning in 1978.

From 1988 through 1992, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Tennessee, and he also worked at the Veterans Administration Medical Center of Memphis.

Clark served as president of Neurosurgical Center of North Georgia from 1992 to 1995 and was president of the Neurosurgical Center of Southaven from 1995 until his move to Greenwood.

He and his wife, Kathleen, have two children.

Clark said he likes Greenwood’s slower pace.“There’s a lot less to do, so you can be more studious,” he said. “You can get caught up on your reading; you can get caught up on your exercise.”It’s taking some time for him to get up some speed, and that’s a nice change of pace. “Frankly, about all I ever did was work,” he said.

Now that he’s rejoined Miller, Clark said the hospital can provide greater coverage than it previously could.“We might have the capability to do more intracranial surgeries,” he said. “If you do brain surgery, you can’t very well leave town. It is much easier to have someone else there, a reliable source.”

Clark said he sees patients in the office on Mondays and Wednesdays, while surgeries are scheduled for Tuesdays. He said he hopes to expand surgery “block time” to Thursdays and have a rotating schedule for office visits every other Friday.

Clark said 80 percent of general neurosurgery is spine-related, meaning ruptured discs along with common neck and back fractures. He said isn’t a lot of difference in the cases he’s seen in Greenwood compared to Southaven.“Neurosurgery is neurosurgery, and people are people,” he said.

Clark, a Presbyterian, said he’s been welcomed by not only the medical staff of the hospital but the entire community. “Everyone has been very nice,” he said.