Dr. Tom Tomlin is the founder of Ponte Vedra Medical Center, which was recently sold to St. Vincent’s, and a longtime resident of Ponte Vedra.
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
My family and I moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 1985 while I was medical director for Health Options, Inc. (Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO) and medical director for St. Vincent’s Ambulatory Care (Urgent Care Centers). In January 1988, I founded Ponte Vedra Family Practice and have practiced family medicine in Ponte Vedra and the Beaches, including delivering babies, providing newborn care, assisting at major surgery and providing hospital care of my patients. Over the years, additional physicians and counselors joined the practice to form Ponte Vedra Medical Center (PVMC), which includes family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, podiatry and behavioral health.
You recently sold your practice to St. Vincent’s. Can you please tell us about that?
The younger partners of PVMC enjoy the practice of their medical specialties but did not want to assume my administrative duties. We chose to merge with St Vincent’s Ambulatory Care (now Ascension Medical Group) and they provide the administrative support while the physicians enjoy their patient practice. Ascension also has the resources to support the expansion of our service to the community, such as our recently added second pediatrician.
How has your life changed since then?
I had reduced my medical practice time to half time about four years ago and also had administrative responsibilities. Now I practice in the office two mornings a week and share in hospital on-call duties one day per week.
What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned in your 30 years of practice?
The most effective reduction in health care cost is for an individual to have their own personal physician that they consult with first and follow their preventive advice. Dr. “Google” and Dr. “WebMD” are not listed in the National Medical Library Association’s Top Ten Most Trusted Websites ().
I understand you still approach medicine with the old-fashioned family doctor model in mind. What about that model is so important to you?
My relationship with patients over the years has developed both ways — from friend to physician and from physician to friend. The opportunity to deliver babies, to see young parents develop into mature adults and to grow old among friends has provided the satisfaction that I wanted being a family physician.
What does the Ponte Vedra community mean to you?
I first saw Ponte Vedra Beach the summer of 1965. In 1978, I showed Ponte Vedra Beach to my wife, Pam, and said I could be happy living there. The Navy transferred me to NAS JAX in 1980 to teach in the Family Medicine Residency Program. When I got out of the Navy in 1988, Pam and I moved “home” to Ponte Vedra Beach.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I work on my “honey do” list first. In addition, I FaceTime with grandchildren, play golf weekly, sit at the beach and fly my kite. With the reduced responsibilities, Pam and I have had the opportunity to travel, such as going to Hawaii for our recent 50th wedding anniversary.