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David Locklear, MD and South Point Family Practice Celebrate 35 Years

11-30-2016

Thirty-five years may seem like a long time, but time flies when you’re doing what you love. David Locklear, MD feels like it was just yesterday when he co-founded South Point Family Practice in Belmont. What began as a two-physician primary care office on Glenway Street in Belmont, NC, has grown and expanded to two additional offices in Mount Holly and Stanley with more than fifteen physicians and advanced care practitioners.

“In some ways I feel as though I’m just beginning,” said Dr. Locklear. “I’m still learning something new every day and enjoying what I do. I have a deep compassion for my patients and their families. They give me purpose to come to work, and they challenge me to continue to learn and be the best doctor I can be.”

When considering communities to open a new family practice more than 35 years ago, Dr. Locklear and his business partner Lee A. Beatty, MD, looked at areas around the Charlotte area mainly because they trained in Charlotte and were already familiar with the referral process. They also set their sights on Gaston County, as it was considered an underserved area at that time. After visiting the area and being inspired by the charm of Belmont and the people who lived there, they made the quick decision to abandon their plans of a Charlotte-based office. After months of planning, Dr. Locklear and Dr. Beatty opened their doors to on November 2, 1981, and saw 20 patients that day. Nearly 400 patients seek medical care at one of the three South Point locations daily.

“We were the first board-certified, residency-trained family doctors in Gaston County,” said Dr. Locklear. “We brought to the community a new era of healthcare. We treated patients not only in the practice setting, but we also saw patients after hours, on the weekends and in the hospital.”

A lot has changed since Dr. Locklear began practicing medicine. What was once more of a paternal role, the doctor-patient relationship has evolved into a partnership with patients taking a more active part in their healthcare. Navigating change in a rapidly-evolving environment like in healthcare is necessary to be successful, but it has also created more challenges. With the transition of paper medical records to an electronic system, doctors have to learn new skills to adapt, explained Locklear. The cost of healthcare is also higher - he recalls an office visit costing just $15 several years ago. He believes rising healthcare costs are a result of a complex industry, as well as the introduction of insurance companies and government regulations.

South Point joined CaroMont healthcare system in November 2006. This year marks a significant milestone for CaroMont, too, as it celebrates the 70th anniversary of providing healthcare in Gaston County.

Despite some struggles along the way, Dr. Locklear has welcomed change with open arms. He feels it has enabled the practice to expand and remain on the cutting-edge of healthcare to benefit patients, even 35 years later. Even through this transformation of care, South Point’s care philosophy hasn’t altered, and that is, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” a well-known truism first coined by Theodore Roosevelt.

“The community response to our practice has been phenomenal over the last 35 years because of our commitment to delivering consistency to our patients,” said Locklear. “Our patients know that we genuinely care about them. We strive to treat our patients like we would want to be treated. Putting them first is our number one priority.”

There are many great memories born out of 35 years. One that stands out most is when Dr. Locklear came upon a young man who collapsed while running through town. Immediately, Dr. Locklear began CPR and as a result of his quick action, the gentlemen survived. The two had the opportunity to meet soon after the episode. A year later, the young man went on to compete in the New York Marathon and he presented Dr. Locklear with his medal. Dr. Locklear has also been very involved in medical missions in the last four years in which he, alongside a team, provided medical care to individuals in Honduras.

Dr. Locklear believes his greatest accomplishments are his patients. He has cared for multiple generations of families and forged friendships that have stood the test of time. Some of his patients still bring him cakes, fresh vegetables and other special treats, and all have supported him through the years, for which Dr. Locklear believes he is truly blessed.

Born and raised in Robeson County, a rural community in Eastern North Carolina, Dr. Locklear was taught early on the importance of education. His mother, a school teacher, encouraged learning and for as long as he can remember, Dr. Locklear spent many summers reading and completing various projects that she would organize. They lived on his grandfather’s farm, offering him many opportunities to learn about farming. Also being from a rural community, Dr. Locklear says he remembers that his family only used a family doctor for all their medical needs—something he believes made an impression on him later in life.

Interestingly, medicine was not his first career choice. Dr. Locklear chose Davidson College to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering, which introduced him to many new and unknown interests, notably medicine. And so, with the encouragement of his classmates and his new-found passion, Dr. Locklear switched his major and applied to medical school at Wake Forest University.

“Primary care is an area I was naturally drawn to because I really wasn’t introduced to anything else growing up, but more importantly it’s an area of medicine that allows me to treat the whole patient: mind, body and spirit,” said Locklear. “Human beings are complex. We [doctors] see the effects of stress and how it leads to chronic disease conditions. You need to be well in mind, body and spirit in order to be fully well. I encourage my patients to embrace other methods of healthcare to address the whole body—exercise, meditation, prayer, and stretching exercises, for example—to reduce stress and achieve total body wellness.”

Aside from work, Dr. Locklear plays recreational basketball at the YMCA in Belmont every morning. He is also the proud father and grandfather of five grandchildren: Jacob, Jaxon, Micah, Abel and Elainea Joy. Something others may not know about him is that he starts his day taking his oldest grandson to pre-school and every morning, they take turns praying for each other.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” he said. “Every day is a gift and we need to make the most of it. Now that I’m a senior citizen, I tell my patients who are also senior citizens that they need to have a purpose and a reason to get up every day. It’s also important to believe you’re making a difference. Those who live by this way of life tend to live longer, happier lives.”

Dr. Locklear can still be found practicing medicine five days a week at South Point Family Practice in Belmont. To learn more about the practice, please click here.

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