Dr. Heidi Larison said she started Wichita Primary Care so she could spend more time with her patients.
Dr. Heidi Larison saw her last patient at Via Christi Health on Monday and opened her solo primary care practice office at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
“We had 19 patients scheduled for the first day, so that’s pretty good,” she said.
She spent part of Tuesday stocking the office with medical supplies from a physician who was retiring.
Larison has never been one to waste time, although a big part of why she started her own practice is that she thinks she can spend more time with patients that way. She started taking classes at Wichita State University at age 14, earning degrees in chemistry, biology and geriatric studies by age 20. She enrolled at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences because “it was the only school that would let me attend before the age of 21.”
When she graduated in 2007, at 24, she was the youngest physician in the state.
Larison traces her interest in health care to her days as a youngster volunteering at an Andover nursing home. “I did their hair and nails,” she said. “That was kind of a passion and skill set, too.”
In fact, it still is. In addition to providing primary care for patients of all ages, Larison offers some aesthetician services, including Botox injections.
“I absolutely love cosmetic medicine, probably because I’m super girlie,” she said. She said she also can use Botox to treat a condition called hyperhidrosis, which is excessive sweating under the arms.
“A lot of people don’t know that’s a thing,” she said. “I figured as long as I’m going to be injecting for wrinkles, …”
Larison calls her office “bare bones” by design. Located in about 8,000 square feet in a strip mall at 21st and Ridge, Wichita Primary Care contains eight exam rooms, an X-ray room, a procedure room and little else.
“The lower overhead we have, the more staff we can have to care for patients. It’s not about chandeliers or granite countertops, that’s for sure.”
She’s employing two nurse practitioners and a medical assistant, and her mother and a retired physician are volunteering “to help get this thing rolling.” Larison is sharing space with another former Via Christi physician, Dr. Michael Shuck, although their practices are separate.
She said she’s taking the “somewhat unusual” step of accepting Medicaid for younger patients as well as Medicare for the elderly.
“I want to provide care for people who don’t maybe have the best insurance policies,” she said. Noting that health insurance costs her husband and herself $900 a month, she said, “I can’t imagine how my parents or grandparents would have been able to afford traditional insurance. It’s sad that it’s so expensive. “
Larison said she initially had no plans to open her own practice, but disenchantment with “big corporate” medicine, her father’s death a year ago and the necessity of undergoing surgery herself changed her plans.
“It just brings life back to a more clear approach,” she said. “What is it all about? What should we be doing? What is the legacy we want to provide patients in the future?”