Ashland is losing another doctor to retirement. After 39 years, Dr. Hill Carter Jr., a 67-year-old Ashland resident, is leaving Ashland Medical Center, primarily because of drastic changes in the medical field such as increasing government control and the growing reliance on technology.
Carter said adapting to the use of more technology in his office has been a challenge, though he did not fight the integration of it in his field.
“I wanted the challenge, I wanted to learn computers and see how it was going to be,” he added.
And he did learn how to use them, for the most part. However, Carter felt that technology was taking away one-on-one time with the patient.
“That’s not the way I want to practice medicine,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right for medicine, the way I know it.”
Carter also believes that many doctors his age, who are nearing retirement, may also start leaving their practices because of technology.
In the next five years, Carter believes that technology will completely change the medical field and how things are done.
Because Carter has been in the field for so long and both his grandfather and father were doctors, he has witnessed a number of changes in medicine over time, some for better, some for worse.
For example, the politics of hospitals are affecting healthcare. Carter said many physicians are forced to work for a specific hospital and under the institution’s rules and if a doctor is not “profitable,” they may be fired.
In addition, he is concerned with the government’s and insurance companies’ involvement in medicine.
“I don’t feel like doctors are running medicine anymore,” he said.
Almost all of Carter’s life has revolved around medicine. He grew up in Washington D.C. and received a medical degree from the University of Virginia. He then trained at Riverside Hospital in Newport News in 1975.
After finishing up training, he landed a job at Ashland Medical Center where he has practiced ever since. Carter said he knew he wanted to return to Ashland and be a doctor where his grandfather practiced “country” medicine for years and his father grew up.
As a child, Carter spent a lot of time in Ashland visiting his grandparents and got to know several of his grandfather’s patients, so he established connections with local residents even before practicing in town.
“I knew a lot of them and they knew me,” Carter said. “It was a perfect fit.”
Carter said many of his own patients at the Ashland Medical Center were also individuals his grandfather “either birthed or operated on” and have revealed their scars to him.
Those clients who he developed friendships with over the years are what he will miss most, Carter said. Each day, he saw roughly 20 patients — listened to their health problems and got to know them as more than just individuals who fell under his care.
“I’ve learned a lot from my patients,” Carter said.
He said his clients opened up his eyes, “broadened his horizons” and taught him that there are numerous ways to do things in life.
But although Carter may miss all the individuals he’s seen over the years when he leaves the Ashland Medical Center at the end of the month, he will remember them.
“It’s been a fun 39 years being with the patients — growing up with them, growing older with them, suffering with them and enjoying their successes,” Carter said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of peoples’ lives.”