Dr. Thomas Freytag will show up to his family practice at 1252 Lincoln Drive in Wapakoneta today just like he has every weekday for the last 25 years.
Sadly, when the office closes at the end of the day, he will not return.
Freytag is giving up his long-time practice to fill a full-time position as occupational medical director at Lima Memorial Hospital. It was obvious Freytag discussed his wrestling with the decision before he made it. However, he said he felt the change was the best move for everyone involved.
Freytag decided to make the move due to changes in the medical field beyond his control.
“I always vowed that if conditions beyond my control changed, it would be time for a change,” Freytag said.
Freytag said that while there have been many changes in the medical field the last 30 years, technological changes in the last two years have caused the biggest barriers for him. An increased emphasis on keeping electronic medical records has been the main culprit.
“It changes the way you practice,” Freytag said. “The young physicians see technology like I see a pen and a piece of paper.”
He said he has found that he often is spending
time looking at a computer screen rather than spending valuable time with the patients.
“I used to see four patients an hour and now I am seeing two,” Freytag said. “Not many people my age are gurus with technology.
“The personal patient communication wasn’t there as much,” he said. “I suppose overall it is a good thing and will work itself out.”
Freytag also said new regulations have made it harder to treat patients.
“For instance, when a Medicare patient comes in you have more to go through,” Freytag said. “If someone came in wanting to get a power chair so they could get around better, you have an 8-page form with questions that has to be completed. Medicare says you have to see them face-to-face. You have to have justification for everything. I am sure there will be benefits down the road.”
He said there also has been changes in insurance. He said insurance companies even call patients at times trying to coax them to changing to a different medication that has been prescribed.
“Their drive is money,” Freytag said. “It is getting more and more prevalent. It is no longer a simple transaction when a patient visits. Medicare is tightening the screws more and more every day.”
Freytag said the most difficult part of leaving is leaving his patients.
Freytag and his wife, Gwynne, moved to Wapakoneta 32 years ago and have made the majority of their friends through his practice. Freytag and his wife have two grown children, Brandon and Jessica, who still live in the area.
“It will be hard losing those relationships,” Freytag said. “This has become our hometown and it is like my extended family. One of the hardest things is when you lose patients to death or moving away. I still think about many of them to this day.”
Freytag will continue his position as Auglaize County coroner and will also continue as the team physician at high school football and basketball games.
The move will not be entirely new for Freytag, as he has practiced occupational medicine at Lima Memorial for 20 years and has served the same position on a part-time basis for the last six years.
“I have talked to some of the patients,” Freytag said. “They have said they understand me leaving. I will continue to be an active part of this community. They are sad to see me go, but they understand.”