Introducing the New Village Doctor

Remember the good old days when you’d get sinus infections from all the lint in the air at your job at the Johnston or Mecklenburg Mill? You’d take a walk to the corner of 35th Street—where Cabo Fish Taco and NoDa Yoga are now located—see Dr. McClosky on the second floor, and fill the prescription on the first floor at Hand Pharmacy. Now get back to work.

NoDa residents in 2019 lament many services that are missing from our neighborhood, but for the first time since Dr. McClosky, NoDa has a village doctor once again. Dr. Allen Shepard, D.O. has opened a new primary care practice on 36th Street in the Novel NoDa retail units. This is his first solo practice after many years of residency in Cornelius and South Park, and the young doctor admitted to me that he is glad to be practicing in his home neighborhood.

The value of a village doctor is immeasurable. I had been visiting a doctor in the Novant network located in the Elizabeth neighborhood. It’s not far, but there always seemed to be a disconnect between me and my old primary care doctor; most noticeably… he was old. I guess that’s good sometimes for the wealth of knowledge and experience. But I just couldn’t relate to him. He was also very busy. His appointment schedule was two to three weeks out, which often meant my symptoms would be hit-or-miss for the visit. The office was busy, diverse, and I always felt rushed in and out at my old doctor’s office.

I visited Dr. Shepard’s 36th Street practice for a second opinion and was immediately sold on switching doctors. Dr. Shepard’s office provides general family primary care with a focus on osteopathic medicine. I didn’t know what that meant, but a little research describes a D.O. as a whole-body approach to diagnosis and treatment with specific treatments for joints, muscles, and spine to correct ailments in the body’s nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.

The difference between my old doctor and Dr. Shepard was clear: rather than being rushed in and out and only talking about the specific targeted ailments of the day, I was able to talk at length to a doctor my age about the interconnected systems of human health. Of course, Dr. Shepard can and will refer patients to specialists, while always keeping faithful to the idea of whole-body health in a general practice.

This ringing review of Dr. Shepard should end with one simple anecdote: I was driving to a referral appointment when I passed by Dr. Shepard crossing the street at Davidson and 36th. He waved to me because he remembered me. It’s not a big deal, but it’s invaluable.