(Dr. Richard Mac Donell, shown with his family, set up MyMD — one of Bend’s first concierge medical practices — in 2006 | Photo courtesy of Dr. Richard Mac Donell)
Dr. Richard Mac Donell knew he wanted to be a doctor, “and help people, since I was seven years old. I’ve always been fascinated by the complexity of the human body and how it works.” The youngest of ten children, he “learned how to be independent” early on, and rather than follow a traditional academic path to reach his goal, decided to major in philosophy, convinced that “knowing how other people think would help me relate to them, and be a better doctor.”
Again defying the norm during his time at Georgetown Medical School, and his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington affiliate in Spokane, Washington, Mac Donell worked at free clinics in Washington, D.C., and volunteered with a medical team for two summers in the Dominican Republic. “I believe that real-life experience outside of the academic ivory tower leads people to be better physicians,” he said.
Mac Donell subsequently returned to his home state of California in 1998, and went into private practice as an internist, but — seeking a slower pace, work-life balance, and the opportunity to make more meaningful connections with patients — moved to Bend in 2001, and set up MyMD — one of the city’s first concierge medical practices — in 2006.
Explaining his motivation to “start over,” Mac Donell said that “the question I asked myself was ‘how can I help people without the time to listen and learn what makes them tick?’ The traditional model is analogous to a factory assembly line, with doctors trained in rapid-fire servicing of patients to make the machine more efficient. The idea of helping people is getting swallowed up, with the result that consumers are too often being short-changed.”
“I didn’t want to lose sight of what got me into the medical field in the first place,” Mac Donell continued. “It breaks down to what I felt when deciding to become a doctor as a young boy — curiosity and wonderment about the world around us. It’s about connecting with people and developing relationships — which is much more than what’s on their medical charts.”
Concierge medicine, Mac Donell emphasized, “is all about providing customized care to patients. At MyMD, this includes minimal office wait time, 24/7 telephone access, and same- or next-day scheduling. And in a return to ‘old-fashioned’ values, I even make house calls in certain instances. Our private, small size allows me to devote more attention and time to the health care needs of my patients — who range in age from their 20s to their 90s. And it also allows me to have breathing space.”
As an internist, unlike a general practitioner, Dr. Mac Donell treats patients 18 years and older throughout their lifetime. Often referred to as a family doctor, “I don’t deliver babies or treat children, or perform surgery,” he said. “I do perform cardiac risk assessment, exercise stress testing, pulmonary function testing, and dermatology procedures, as well as deliver preventative health advice, and coordinate patient care among specialists.” MyMD also offers first-, second-, and third-class physicals for FAA Flight Certification.
“Concierge medicine, with its focus on giving more time to fewer patients, enables me to do my best work,” Mac Donell said. “And the patients we serve — some of whom have been with me for 20 years — support this priority with their memberships. Admittedly, discretionary income is required, but the irony is that people can have an abundance of discretionary income and still not receive timely care through traditional channels.”
For example, Mac Donell noted that “although we have great medical care in this community, a common lament is the amount of time it takes to schedule an appointment. At MyMD, I’m here for you, and will adapt to your schedule — not the other way around. I really feel that should be the heart of the doctor-patient relationship.”
In addition to Dr. Mac Donell, patients at MyMD Personal Medicine have the option of seeing Dr. Darcy Wynn, who is board certified in Family Medicine, and was drawn to the concierge approach because it allows patients “to see a doctor when you actually need to see one, and spend more collaborative time together.”
“Incredibly excited” to join MyMD, Dr. Wynn believes that treating “each patient as a whole and complex individual — which includes not only physical well-being but also mental, emotional and lifestyle factors — results in the best care.” Drs. Mac Donell and Wynn offer a combined 34 years of clinical practice.
In line with his career trajectory, Dr. Mac Donell again veers from the conventional to express a dynamic that he has found germane: “Patients don’t give a damn about what you know, until they know that you give a damn.”
mymd.com • 695 NW York Dr., Bend • 541-322-6869