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Top geriatrician practices at Highland Springs

Mary Norman named Best Doc by D Magazine for 11th year in a row

Created date

January 4th, 2016
Mary Norman, medical director at Highland Springs
Mary Norman, medical director at Highland Springs

Mary Norman, medical director at Highland Springs, was named one of Dallas’s top geriatricians by D Magazine for the 11th year in a row.

Norman was recognized in the magazine’s Best Docs issue, which hit newsstands in October 2015. Norman has appeared in the annual listing since 2005.

“It’s an honor because it’s your peers who nominate and vote for you,” says Norman.

To compile the list of best doctors, D Magazine sends a confidential poll to 6,000 local doctors across several specialties, asking them to name two doctors they would send their patients or loved ones to in each of 39 specialties. 

“That’s the question I ask myself when I’m filling out the poll,” says Norman. “Is this someone I would go see or recommend to a family member? I think expertise, bedside manner, and reputation are three of the most important factors when considering a doctor.”

Norman has been practicing at Highland Springs since 2007.

“I’ve had the opportunity to care for many of our residents for the better part of a decade,” says Norman. “Our medical center is a part of the community, so I get to see our residents out and about. It’s a very unique way to practice medicine.”

The Tribune recently sat down with Dr. Norman to talk about the medical center at Highland Springs and her role in the community.

Tribune: What distinguishes Highland Springs from other continuing care retirement communities in North Dallas?

Norman: To my knowledge, Highland Springs is the only community with a fully staffed medical center. Other communities may have a nurse practitioner on staff and an attending physician who makes the rounds, but no one has an independent living medical center with full-time physicians on staff.

Tribune: You worked for Baylor Senior Health Network prior to joining the medical team at Highland Springs. What drew you to Highland Springs?

Norman: I love Erickson Living’s model of care. At Highland Springs, I have a lot of flexibility in how I care for residents. I get to be the doctor who makes home visits with my black bag if someone’s not feeling well enough to come to the medical center. It’s easy for me to run up to a resident’s apartment, and I think that’s a really special way to practice medicine.

I also like our comprehensive team approach to care. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate specifically on geriatric care in a traditional internal medicine practice. At Highland Springs, I can focus on geriatrics, which I love, and I work with this amazing team of social workers, physical and occupational therapists, resident life staff, home support staff, and our security team. We’re all working toward the same goal—the overall well-being of our residents.

Tribune: From a resident’s perspective, what are the benefits of using the medical center at Highland Springs?

Norman: At Highland Springs, we have about 330 patients per full-time physician. In an average doctor’s office, that number is around 2,300 patients for each physician. When I see residents around the community, they’re not just one of 2,000 patients. I know them.

I also get to spend an hour with new patients and a half-hour for follow-up appointments. That’s huge. In a normal outpatient setting, the expectation is that you’re seeing people every ten or fifteen minutes.

Another benefit is that we offer the continuum of care right here at Highland Springs. We’re able to provide a higher level of care as it’s needed in our continuing care neighborhood.

Tribune: What are your goals as you continue to practice medicine?

Norman: The most important thing is that our residents feel better and feel cared for when they leave the medical center.

Much of what we do is manage chronic illness. Some things we can cure; most things we manage. We want our residents to know they’re not alone. We will help them through whatever they’re going through, whether it’s an acute illness or a chronic disease.

One of the things I value most is what I call the eyeball test. I can see a resident in the hallway and tell when something’s not right, or, conversely, when they’re feeling better. That comes from being part of the community and knowing our residents.