Medical Doctor happy to bridge between private and public patient care
In advancing the welfare of others, Dr Franz Collins decided to bridge the gap between private and public patient care. When he is not busy with his practice during the week, he spends his weekends innovatively providing medical services for communities that need them the most.
“In our mobile unit, we go to different areas and bring medical services to you, making it both convenient and affordable. We offer blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks, as well as HIV checks. We also offer medication for those who need it, for blood pressure, blood sugar, and other health problems,” he told The Sunday Gleaner, adding, “We partner with different drug companies who come onboard and help us by providing samples that can be used. And only a subsidised fee is paid by the patients.”
The owner and chief executive officer of Mobicare shared that it was always his dream to help others however he could. And he’s just happy that as a medical doctor, he has the opportunity to improve lives.
Growing up in Kingston, Dr Collins had a very active childhood. From a young age, he took a keen interest in the sciences and that attraction grew into an admiration for the field of medicine. “I thought of medicine as something that would help people and I have always wanted to do that,” he explained.
While attending St George’s College, Dr Collins interacted with people from various backgrounds. That day-to-day interplay made him a well-rounded individual, grooming him to relate with people from all walks of life. He remained active, balancing academia with sports to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
By the time he was enrolled in medicine at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, the reserved scholar was placed into situations that required an outspoken side, increasing his confidence. His heart was set on specialising in surgery. “I embarked on my residency in post-graduate studies in general surgery at the Kingston Public Hospital. However, as life would have it, I went through some obstacles during the programme, and I decided to switch focus,” he revealed. This professional path led him to find an awakening love as a general practitioner.
His ambitious, passionate, caring, friendly, and approachable nature paid off when he embarked upon his career. Thriving under pressure at one of the country’s leading medical hospitals, his display of good bedside manner saw him getting along famously with patients and staff members.
“At KPH, we deal with a low socio-economic group and that is something I enjoy about working at the hospital. It’s free health care, to a point, and I love that I can provide care for people who appreciate it when you go the extra mile for them,” he said.
After spending a year at KPH from 2017 to 2018, he went to Percy Junior Hospital in Spalding, Clarendon, leaving in 2019 to return to KPH, weathering the catastrophic storm of COVID-19.
“It was rough. The fear, the trauma, the uncertainty, it was a lot to deal with. But at KPH, we go the extra mile and that’s what kept me going and kept us going until things improved and got better.”
A general practitioner is usually closely associated with private care. But according to Dr Collins, there was still a yearning to reach out to people and areas that don’t have access to this treatment.
He decided to make a bridge between public and private health care and left the hospital in September of last year. He then opened his practice and put in overtime in facilitating treatment for individuals who couldn’t necessarily make it to the doctor or afford exorbitant payments, with Mobicare.
PASSION FOR SURGERY
Because of his passion for surgery, he performs minor procedures in lumps and bumps for community patients. “A lot of people have these issues, but when they think about the cost involved, they get disappointed and they don’t bother,” he added. Removing an in-grown toenail still ranks high on his community care encounters because he hadn’t realised that so many persons, mostly women, had that particular problem to fix. He also listed wart removal as a frequent request.
As a young doctor trying to establish a name and a practice, funding has proven to be a difficult feat. But having a clean and comfortable space for patients to visit is fundamental for this line of work.
Since opening in December of last year, he has been happy with the positive feedback and support from family and friends. Having the ability to assist those who need it has provided him with a great sense of fulfilment. “I never saw myself being a GP, but it has been such a rewarding experience,” he confessed.
“I tend to have a close relationship with my patients. I give them my number so that they have access to giving me their reading from different tests. Or they will let me know that the medication is working,” Dr Collins disclosed.
The team currently includes his colleague Dr Edmond Iles, himself, and his mother, “She helps to register the patients and keeps all the information and we do the checks and consultations. We also have a master of ceremonies with us to entertain the crowd, engage the community members and provide a bit of health education. That’s MC Marko.” From time to time, the doctor also offers light refreshments, which have previously been provided by Party Pop-Up.
Even though there are overhead costs to consider, Dr Collins tries to keep the checkup fee as low as possible. The plan is to have an establishment of his own for Mobicare so that when these patients have follow-ups to do, they will have a base to visit. He has so far popped up in Pembroke Hall, Gregory Park Basic School, and Westchester Community Centre in Kingston. He is looking forward to branching out into inner city areas and rural communities across the island.
His advice to aspiring doctors seeking to come into the field is to do it for the love. “That’s the only thing that will pull you through when time gets rough. It is also important to understand that while the job is science-based, it is also people-centred, so ensure that you develop that skill as well.”