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A History of Country Doctor Clinics

Dr. Dale Alsager

Dr. Dale Alsager

At Age 46 Dr. Dale Alsager Opens the “Country Doctor Clinic” in Maple Valley, WA

by Cheryl J. Watkins, Voice of the Valley columnist, 1996

If you haven’t heard of Osteopathic Medicine, you’re not alone. Just 11 percent of the American public is aware of this branch of medicine.

Dale Alsager certainly hadn’t heard of Osteopathic Medicine in the 1960’s when his college aptitude test said that’s what he’d be best at. Now, nearly 30 years later, he’s proved the test was right. Dr. Alsager and his wife Betty operate a “Country Doctor” clinic in Maple Valley. Established in a rural house, the clinic attempts to maintain a home-like atmosphere, including the smell of fresh-baked bread, a dog that announces the arrival of patients, and two cats – “Prozac” and “Paxil” – roaming the waiting room and who are, the Alsagers believe, a better treatment for depression than their pharmaceutical namesakes.

There’s one other important distinction to Dr. Alsager’s practice: appointments are scheduled at 30-minute intervals, with a full hour allotted to new patients. This puts him at odds with insurance carriers who expect “Preferred Providers” to see 40 or more patients a day.

To hear Dr. Alsager talk about HMO-impact on the practice of medicine, a Patients’ Bill of Rights and threats to patient confidentiality, one would think he’d been a doctor for decades. He hasn’t. He started practice at the age of 52 in 1996, after a mid-life career change that’s more dramatic than most.

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