Busy physician always finds extra time to work with patients

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David Barber

Time is a luxury few physicians can spare, but Dr. David Barber's patients appreciate the fact that he does just that.

"He's an outstanding physician and is very busy," says Violet Pulvere, "but not too busy to take time to listen to his patients and treat them with kindness and respect." Pulvere, who goes to Barber's office at Phoenix Primary Care credits the physician's exacting and dedicated standards with saving her life. "The first time he saw me, he recommended an EKG," says Pulvere. "They found four blocked arteries even though I hadn't noticed any symptoms. If I hadn't been taken care of, I've always felt that I would have died."

Pulvere is not alone in her praises of the Phoenix doctor. Former patient Doug Wagner laments that his current insurance policy won't allow him to see Barber. "He's the best doctor I ever went to," says Wagner. "He's nice, polite, very thorough. As a patient I feel that I received the best and most thorough physical exam that any doctor has given me."

Barber, a soft-spoken man doesn't want to toot his own horn. He says he's become comfortable researching and trying to find the answer to questions and symptoms he doesn't immediately understand whereas once it may have elicited panic. "It's easy to see someone who has hypertension or obvious problems you can deal with," says Barber. "It's another when someone comes in and you don't know what to do for them. I'm much more comfortable fishing that out." It's a trait Barber says is particularly useful in rural medicine, where physicians tend to be more isolated from breaking news in their field. He says the impetus is on those physicians to keep themselves up to date as best they can.

After working for years in several emergency departments, Barber worked as a hospitalist at Lee Memorial Hospital. Now at Phoenix Primary Care, Barber says he sees primarily older patients. As for why he spends more time with patients, Barber says, "Personally I just can't go into a room and see patients in 10 minutes. I need time to figure out what's going on."

Barber says some of the most important communication can happen as the doctor is walking out the door, when a patient finally mentions a symptom they hadn't thought was important during the examination. "They'll say 'by the way, I've been have chest pains for the last two months,'" says Barber. "It takes some time to warm up and get that across."

For their part, Barber's patients are ready and willing to communicate with him. "He lets you talk, he listens to you," says Pulvere.
(By Chris Motola)