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TIMES HERALD-RECORD (October 28, 2014)

http://www.recordonline.com/article/20141028/HEALTH/141029739/0/SEARCH

“EXPERIMENT” GROWS TO INNOVATIVE PRACTICE
Celebrating 30 years of Middletown Medical

By Beth Kalet

Dr. Rajan GulatiDr. Rajan Gulati is nothing if not resourceful. Thirty years ago this month, while he was working as director of the emergency department at the now-closed Horton Memorial Hospital in Middletown, the nurses went on strike.

Worried that patients wouldn’t receive care, Gulati went to the hospital CEO to ask if he and a friend, Dr. Alexander Gapay, “could open an urgent care across the street from the hospital. We rented two rooms and within a week, we were seeing 100 patients a day,” Gulati remembers. “The strike was over in 24 hours, but we’re still there.”

That was the genesis of Middletown Medical, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. Gulati is president and CEO of this ever-expanding, multi-specialty physicians’ group. They have 15 locations throughout Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Looking back, he says, “It started as just an experiment.”

That’s a fitting beginning for this innovative practice. Gulati’s initiative started as a response to a need, he says. The immediate medical care walk-in he developed was the first of its kind in the region. Today, he continues as an innovator. He sees the continued growth of Middletown Medical as a natural response to the needs of area residents. But he says his goal is not merely to grow.

“We want to continue to expand and attract good physicians, because happy doctors make good doctors,” Gulati says. “We treat them with respect. We respect their dignity, which physicians are sometimes losing these days. We respect innovative thinking and different ways to treat patients. And we tell them not to just check the boxes (when treating patients), but to think out of the box.”

And patients “get that,” Gulati says. They recognize the fact that they are treated as individuals and not cases, he adds.

But there’s another aspect to Middletown Medical that has enabled it to reach this milestone anniversary. It’s how the staff is treated. “The other thing we try to do is help our employees,” says Gulati. Tuition assistance is available for those who want to learn more or switch specialties, such as a medical assistant who wants to become an ultrasound technician. “We help pay their tuition.”

From small beginnings
Gulati continues to see patients while serving as president and CEO of Middletown Medical. Thirty years on, this physicians’ group that began with just three now employs more than 350, making Middletown Medical a leading employer in the area.

After just a few years at its initial Ridge Street location in Middletown, Immediate Medical Care, as it was then known, outgrew its space. That’s when Dr. Gulati decided to build a 5,000-square-foot building at 2 Edgewater Drivel. With this move came expanded services — primary and family care, specialty medicines such as cardiology, laboratory services and more –and the name was changed to Middletown Medical. By 1993, it was time to expand again — to a new and considerably larger 30,000-square-foot building at 111 Maltese Drive (just next door to 2 Edgewater). This building underwent significant expansion in 1999 and is still the main hub of Middletown Medical’s operation.

Today, with 15 locations in three counties, 350 employees, more than 50 physicians and 20 different specialties, Middletown Medical has earned the title of “Recognized Practice” as a Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Its specialty services include The Sleep Center, The Headache Center, occupational medicine and the Pediatric Express walk-in urgent care center in Chester.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Gulati says growth is always on the horizon. Middletown Medical continues to expand through affiliations with local and regional physicians and providers, collaborations with new specialists and acquisitions of new properties in new communities, he adds.

For more information about Middletown Medical or any of its locations and specialties, visit MiddletownMedical.com or call 342-4774.

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