Doctor plants new roots

By Traci DiPietro
Staff Writer
Posted 4/19/07

FAIRHOPE — The first thing one notices when paying a visit to Dr. Regan Andrade at her Spring Run Drive office is the warm greeting extended by either the doctor or her husband, Mark, who doubles as her interim administrative assistant. (Mark is …

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Doctor plants new roots


FAIRHOPE — The first thing one notices when paying a visit to Dr. Regan Andrade at her Spring Run Drive office is the warm greeting extended by either the doctor or her husband, Mark, who doubles as her interim administrative assistant. (Mark is also a lawyer, specializing in elderlaw; he shares office space in the same building)

The second thing you might notice is Kerbe; a tall, stately looking Irish water spaniel; often seen peeking out from behind the reception area. Kerbe, 2, boasts a sweet disposition, and can provide a delightful distraction to children visiting the office.

Andrade, a family practitioner, says she derives a great deal of personal satisfaction from her work. She spent four years toiling away in corporate America as an accountant before pursuing a career in medicine, and that experience has increased her appreciation for the role family physicians play.

“What I was doing before just wasn’t very meaningful,” she said. “I like knowing that I can help people.”

The Andrade family said they fell in love with Fairhope while here on a much needed vacation last August. Their lifestyle is well suited to the Gulf Coast climate. They enjoy sports, gardening and other outdoor activities, and their three sons, Sam, 15, Jac, 14, and Oliver, 9, play soccer, baseball and football.

“Fairhope has the quality and charm of so many places we have visited, but with the added bonus of a desirable climate. It also has good public schools and a waterfront area,” she said. “All that, and it had a need for family physicians. It certainly seemed like the ideal spot to start a practice.”

So shortly after their vacation concluded, the family returned to Alabama. They arrived just after Christmas in 2006; opening Fairhope Family Medicine within two weeks of their arrival.

The move was fairly smooth, the couple said, with the exception of a few minor glitches. Apparently, Andrade suffered some technical difficulties when, like most newcomers to the area, she went to apply for her Alabama state driver’s license.

For most of us, this familiar procedure is usually straightforward — just pay a small fee, present a birth certificate or a passport, and you are on your way.

To her dismay, Andrade discovered that her passport had expired, and she did not have a “valid” copy of her birth certificate, or so she was told by the woman behind the counter at the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles. Andrade said the public servant, with a look of disdain on her face, dangled Andrade’s birth certificate between two fingers — as though it was contaminated with a disease — and told her, “No, this is unacceptable”.

To complicate things further, she discovered she could not get a valid birth certificate for several reasons. First, because her credit card address did not match her new address; then because her residence was listed incorrectly with the utility company. Then because her birth certificate could not be mailed to a postal box (the post office required her to receive mail at a box), and on and on it goes.

Andrade and her husband spent countless hours trying to sort out all of the issues, until finally, six weeks and more than a few laughs later, she finally received her driver’s license.

“It was quite a process,” she said with a good-natured chuckle.

(Next, she said, she is going to tackle updating her passport … which just might seem like a breeze after her license ordeal.)

Andrade said her practice will emphasize promoting wellness and prevention of illness, as well as responsive healthcare, to folks of all ages.

Her ideal practice, she said, would be to combine the service of an old-fashioned family practice with modern medical care. In that practice she would make every effort to leave a portion of her day unscheduled, in order to accommodate patients on the day they call.

However, she pointed out, it is important to qualify this goal by acknowledging that as her practice grows, there may be days in which she would be unable to do this.

When asked what is the biggest issue facing physicians today, Andrade responded that it was the disintegration of the physician-patient relationship and the reduction in physician autonomy in deciding what treatments are best for their patients, a condition she attributes to the intervention of third parties.

“By third parties I mean insurance companies, the federal government and corporations trying to get into medicine as a side business. The greatest challenge that physicians face today is regaining control of that physician-patient relationship. Insurance companies have far too much control over both the patient population and the physicians.”

In her opinion, they dictate many of the treatments and medications her patients are permitted to have. Therefore, decisions are made based on what insurance requires, not on what the physician thinks is best.

The loss of the joy derived from the relationship doctors have with their patients, she said, is driving potential future physicians toward different career paths.

Despite these, and other obstacles faced by the medical community, Andrade maintains a positive attitude, and she said she looks forward to serving her patients and to her new life as a Fairhoper.