Dr. Thomas Kendall Sr. of Greenville, South Carolina, puts the patient-physician relationship at the top of his medical priorities.
Besides healing, that is.
“A medical doctor is trained to treat sick patients with medical diseases,” he says, explaining his simple, straightforward approach to medicine.
That approach includes freedom from government and insurance encumbrance. The Samaritan Ministries member, who has been a primary care physician since 1979, is also a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which advocates for the free-market practice of medicine.
In all his medical interactions, though, he makes sure he’s directly dealing with his patients and their needs. Since he doesn’t bill insurance, either private or government, he and his patients aren’t restricted by third-party decisions.
“Basically, there are three things that should drive the medical economy: one is cash, two is catastrophic coverage, and then charity,” Dr. Kendall says. “Those are the three things that ought to determine the economy of medicine—not the federal government, not health insurance. When third parties enter the picture, the patient-physician relationship is marred.
“Why should my decision to treat a patient with a certain medicine or a certain therapy be questioned by someone in a cubicle 200 miles from me?”
Yet, despite the challenges of operating in 21st-century medicine—he and his medical partner, Dr. Richard Kemmerlin, quit delivering babies after a significant liability premium increase—he has faith that God is at work.
“I do believe that medicine is a core value of the Gospel message, and that our Savior is the great physician,” Dr. Kendall says.
But he also sees parallels between the United States and ancient Israel in our nation’s moral decay, whether we’re talking about government, culture, or medical care.