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
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
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
“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,