For Dr. David Linn of Conifer, a small-town practice has been the best medicine.
“I always wanted to be the small-town doc who did it all,” Linn said of his practice, Conifer Mountain Family Medicine, at 10791 Kitty Drive. He’s the only doctor in the office, and he likes it that way. Linn is celebrating 25 years in his practice.
A native of Nebraska, Linn always intended to be a doctor in a rural community, not specializing in any particular area of medicine but treating a variety of ills in a variety of patients.
When he was 13, his grandmother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
“Medicine has changed tremendously over the years,” he said. “If she had the medicine we have now, she would have lived to be 90.”
Linn said the age range of his patients runs from a few weeks to 100 years old. He can remember all his patients and their histories, and he can treat 90 percent of the medical problems they have.
“If I saw the same type of patient over and over again, I’d get bored,” Linn said.
Linn considers his practice a success and said it’s because of one reason: his staff.
“Without my staff, I couldn’t do this,” he said.
The right prescription
Fun is how Linn describes medicine and talking with patients. The hard part was learning how to run a practice and manage the paperwork, and other issues that have nothing to do with lab results and prescriptions.
“They don’t teach you how to be a businessman in medical school,” he said. “The easy part is seeing patients; the other stuff is what causes headaches and ulcers.”
Linn said another advantage of seeing a small-town doctor is that prices are about one-third less than what specialists charge. But providing a wide range of services increases the cost of doing business. Expensive equipment, state-of-the-art patient records and a staff of 15 are all factors in the health of the practice’s budget.
“Most other professions make more than I do,” Linn said. “The myth of the wealthy doctor is just that, a myth.”
He says he works 12- to 14-hour days because being part of a small community is what it’s all about. He provides free sports physicals for Conifer High School athletics programs, teaches confirmation classes at Our Lady of the Pines and was the medical director for Platte Canyon Fire/Rescue.
He said one hazard of living where he practices is that patients frequently stop him in the grocery store and ask for medical advice.
Linn strives to provide cutting-edge treatments that his patients want. He’s now offering cosmetic care for sun-damaged skin and wrinkle reduction.
“People look in the mirror, and they like what they see,” Linn said. “Making people feel good about the way they look is as good as a healthy blood pressure number.”
Linn would like to add another doctor to the practice, someone to share the workload and let him spend more time with his wife, Grace, and their three daughters.
With a busy practice and commitments in the community, Linn regrets not having seen much of Colorado or exploring many of its mountains. He hopes another practitioner will remedy that situation.
“That’s what happens when you’re available 24/7,” he said.