Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
When Dr. Nick Bellos retired from his clinical practice in September 2012, it wasn’t because he didn’t like seeing patients. He loved his patients; what he didn’t like was all the computer time that was becoming an ever-larger part of clinical medicine. It was the necessity of maintaining the time-consuming EHR — electronic health records — that convinced him it was time to retire.
But, he notes now, “I didn’t really retire; I just left clinical practice. I have stayed in the medical field all along.”
Bellos has been working as medical director for Quest Labs, a “patient-facing health and wellness business,” he said this week. “We are the people you see at health fairs doing screenings for things like diabetes and high blood pressure. We also work with insurance companies to make sure their patients get all the appropriate testing required by the government.”
And as of last week, he added, “I am the point person for Quest employees for all questions and issues related to COVID-19. All 45,000 employees — if they have questions or problems related to COVID, they come to me. I also work with the employee health solutions people, of course, but ultimately, the buck stops with me.”
But busy as he has been, there was one fact Bellos couldn’t ignore: “I missed clinical medicine,” he said. “I missed taking care of my patients.”
So when Texas Speciality Clinic gave him a chance to have that again, he took it.
That connection with the patients was what had made practicing medicine worthwhile. But when the emphasis began to shift to the electronic
record keeping to the point that it interfered with the doctor/patient relationship, Bellos decided to make a change.
“I practiced concierge medicine before I knew it was concierge medicine!” he declared. “I always spent as much time with my patients as I needed to. And a lot of my patients ended up being my friends. I’d say about 60 percent of them always had my home phone number and my personal email address. I was very fortunate that none of them ever took advantage of that.”
When he was offered the chance to practice clinical medicine again with Texas Speciality Clinic, Bellos said he was a little leery at first. He told them he wasn’t interested if it meant shuffling patients in and out as quickly as possible while spending most of the time having to enter the
“They told me that wouldn’t be a problem. They have someone else to handle all the EHR,” he said. “It takes me about 45 seconds to dictate a new patient’s information. That affords me the ability to look a person in the eye and spend time with them, rather than having to turn my back on them and put things into the computer. Honestly, I am sort of an old fart when it comes to that stuff. I think a doctor should spend time with the patient, not the computer. I get to do that here.”
Because of the requirements of his work with Quest, Bellos said he has office hours from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each Saturday at Texas Specialty Clinic, located 2603 Oak Lawn Ave. The actual clinic is now closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic but doctors are available by telephone in the meantime.
Bellos said there is a nurse practitioner at the clinic who handles the well woman exams and the practice also includes sexual health, offering PrEP and in-office rapid testing for HIV.
“If someone comes in to get tested and finds out they are positive, they get treated for HIV immediately. They leave the office that day with a prescription for the meds they need. There’s no waiting to find out how the test came out, and no waiting for treatment.”
The main thing Bellos said he wants the community to know is, “We are here to serve the gay community overall.”