Gary R. Botstein, M.D

Gary R. Botstein, M.D., for founding the Physicians' Care Clinic (PCC) in 1992, a community outreach initiative of the DeKalb Medical Society, and for volunteering in the clinic since its inception.

Some things are not as they seem. Like how Gary Botstein, this mild-mannered, soft-strumming guitar player once blew out the bars as a member of the band, The What For.

"It was the Sixties, man…and what they say about the 60s is, if you remember the 60s, you weren't there," he said.

Perhaps it's also a surprise that this big old dreamer would put down the axe, graduate Harvard Med School and become Dr. Gary Botstein, rheumatologist.

"There was a downturn in the economy, and there were a lot of people who said, 'I can't see you anymore. I lost my job. I don't have insurance,'" said Dr. Botstein.

That's when the doctor brought his 60s ideals to the 90s economy.

In 1992, Botstein founded the Physicians Care Clinic. It provides free services for anyone in DeKalb County near or below the poverty level with no insurance.

"We had this talent, we had this skill, we had this knowledge to help these people," he said. "It seemed wrong not to do that."

A week after the clinic opened, Botstein went to the DeKalb News Sun because it wasn't getting any patients. Sadly, that is no longer an issue.

"Each year we see more patients. We've never had a year where we've seen less," he said.

But those patients cherish their care.

"You hear some sad stories about how people get there, and you can't help but think, 'There but the grace of God go I,'" he said.

Botstein employs doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical students. But employ is the wrong word: they all work for free.

"Even after they finish working, they take time out of their evening to come work at the clinic," he said. "You know, they're giving their free time to make sure this all works, and nobody else is doing that in the medical field. No one."

Big change takes big dreams. In this case, it takes a father wanting to pass on the right message to his kids.

"That they see giving back is an important to the community," he said.

And it takes a big old dreamer with the vision and patience to see a major problem and keep plucking away.

"I think PCC represents the best in the medical community. I think it shows that doctors care deeply about people who are sick," he said. ""We're a lifeline for a lot of these folks. We're out there. We're ready to help."



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