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Thursday, November 01, 2012

City to Country

Once an orthopedic specialist for New York City-area pro athletes, Dr. John Carmody now provides care to rural patients and enjoys life at SML.

In 2002, John Carmody was a noted orthopaedic specialist in New York City who had worked with prominent professional athletes from teams such as the Jets, Knicks, Yankees and Rangers. But Carmody was ready for a change. So, along with his wife, Frances, he began his journey, from big-city physician to Southwest Virginia clinician, with unconventional methodology.
    “We used a pencil and string to circle a 500-mile radius on the map,” said Carmody. “We wanted to be convenient to New Jersey where our aging mothers lived, and I figured 500 miles was about as far as I could travel in a day to get to them, if needed. At the far edge of that radius was the Virginia-North Carolina border.”
    Carmody graduated from New York Medical College in 1973, spent 20 years practicing in New York City and northern New Jersey and was a team physician for the NFL’s Jets for two years. Today, he helps patients at Bedford Orthopaedics and lives at Smith Mountain Lake’s Mariners Landing community.
    After graduating from medical school, Carmody completed his residency at Lenox Hill Hospital and practiced at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Lenox Hill is where he met his wife, a nurse and medical educator, and first got the chance to rub elbows with professional athletes.
    “Lenox Hill Hospital was a top sports medicine center when I was there,” Carmody said. “We provided medical care for the New York Knicks, Yankees, Rangers and Islanders hockey teams, Cosmos soccer team and the Jets football team. I traveled with the Jets for two years.”
    hose early years of immersion in sports medicine led to Jets season tickets on the 50-yard line and, more importantly, considerable experience in the area of orthopaedics and sports injuries. Carmody also gained an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to be a professional athlete.
    “You realize these players are just men, and they’re working hard to do what they do,” he said.
    Carmody made a major professional move in 2002, taking over a practice in Galax. But the stress of running a practice took a toll on his health and he opted to stop performing major surgeries to concentrate on general office practice. Last year, he accepted an offer from Lynchburg-based Centra Health, which was expanding its presence in Bedford.
    “My role right now is general orthopaedics and orthopaedic evaluations,” said Carmody. “I do a lot of consulting regarding surgery and non-surgical options. I think because of my experience and not being involved in the surgery, I can give a good opinion on the pros and cons of treatment. We take care of any general orthopaedic evaluation, fracture care and non-operative care.”
    Though he is an expert at resolving orthopaedic issues, Carmody said his 25 years of experience have taught him to do more than treat a patient’s physical problems.
    “Everybody you see has two things – a problem and a history of how the problem happened. The really effective doctor is the one who deals with both of these things. He listens to their story and helps them with their problem. If you do those two things then patients generally are satisfied. If you fail to do both of those things they won’t be satisfied. You have to know both the story and the problem, and it takes time to do that,” he said.
    In Bedford, where it is decidedly slower paced than metropolitan areas, Carmody has the time to deal with both. Taking time with patients is something he looks forward to.
    “I very much enjoy the interaction with patients in the office. There is a broad spectrum of people in the area here,” he said. “I also enjoy the medical community here. I was in a private practice for a while, and interaction with colleagues who have similar training and sometimes differing points of view is a blessing to me.”
    Carmody said the biggest difference he sees in larger city healthcare versus that of more rural areas is patient accessibility.
    “There are quality providers both in larger cities and smaller towns; there isn’t much difference there,” he said. “But if the provisions are more distant and fewer, access becomes the biggest issue. In the big cities there are more facilities offering access. Rural is hard to define. You have to look at how many people are available to deliver the service, how far away they are, affordability and transportation. It’s a complicated issue. Here, Centra has taken initiatives to make sure community members don’t have to travel to get what they need.”
    Even with a full schedule at his medical practice, Carmody has been able to enjoy the perks of living at Smith Mountain Lake.
    “It’s a beautiful area with a nice, temperate climate,” he said. “There are lots of recreational things to do and people are very nice and treat you in a civil fashion.
    “The lake is beautiful. I have a great view of Smith Mountain. ... I used to fish saltwater striped bass in Long Island. I am hoping to try it out at the lake soon.”