Dr. Christopher Greene served as CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia’s chief of staff in 2019 (all chiefs of staff serve one-year terms), an intense time of upgrading and improving for the hospital operating in a facility that has gone through considerable upheaval over the years.
Greene, as well as many others, believes that things are on the right track with CHI Memorial’s growing presence in the Walker-Catoosa County area. He told listeners on a health-themed radio program he co-hosts that CHI Memorial will eventually be building a brand new hospital on Battlefield Parkway.
Greene says that while no plans are ever carved in stone, groundbreaking is slated to be in July, though it could take several years to complete the hospital. The facility will have 60 beds, a full-service emergency department and anything else one might expect to find in a modern hospital.
In the meantime, says Greene, the current location in the former Hutcheson building has a full-service emergency room with imaging services. The ER and the hospital, Greene said on his radio program, are CHI Memorial, not Hutcheson and not Cornerstone. He said CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia will continue to grow at its current location on Gross Crescent Circle in Fort Oglethorpe until the new hospital opens a few miles away.
Greene, of CHI Memorial Family Practice Associates in Ringgold, comes from a family of physicians. His great grandfather, William Jackson Greene, graduated from a medical school in Chattanooga and started practicing medicine in the late 1800s.
Skipping a generation, Greene’s grandfather, Ralph Sr., chose not to pursue medicine, but his father, Ralph Jr., became a doctor and in 1970 started Tri-County Family Practice Associates.
In 1995, Greene’s father sold his practice to CHI Memorial but stayed on to lead the group until he passed away several years later. Greene, who earned his doctorate in 1993, joined the renamed practice in 1996. (Greene also has a sister who is a doctor and people on his mother’s side of the family who are in medicine.)
Among Greene’s many pursuits is cohosting a radio program – Vital Health Radio, sponsored by CHI Memorial – with Ed Jones, founder and owner of Nutrition World in Chattanooga. The program focuses on all-around health, including good prevention practices like eating nutritionally and exercising. The show often features guest speakers, too.
Greene attended the University of Georgia where he performed genetics research on retroviral activity. He earned a degree in microbiology then pursued graduate studies at the Medical College of Georgia and earned his doctorate.
Among other things, Greene helped found the Sports Medicine Training program for the residency program at Floyd Medical Center in Rome and has worked in the insurance programs for Tenncare and Medicare Advantage, as well as in commercial insurance. He holds directorship positions in private physical therapy, home health and hospice companies, and he helped found the PRN Hospitalist service at CHI Memorial. He has also done medical-legal consulting and contributes to work that helps those who cannot afford a medical provider.
Positive changes, future expectations
“I like to be positive about things,” says Greene. “Rather than worry about what’s wrong, I like to look at what’s right and build on that or focus on fixing things.”
One thing that’s changed over the years, says Greene, is the prevalence of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, many of whom Greene has trained. “I enjoy working with nurse practitioners,” he says. “They look at medicine in a different way and I learn from them.”
Greene says having assistants trained in patient care has allowed his practice to stay open more hours – until 8 p.m. every week night, which offers patients far more options.
Greene says people can now earn doctorates as nurse practitioners.
Positive change Greene would like to see, and feels many others would, too, is a “country doctor” approach to medicine, where the same doctor sees a patient at every point in his or her treatment.
“Medicine is more compartmentalized today,” Greene says. “A patient sees his primary care doctor at one point, specialists at other points and a hospitalist in the hospital. Medical schools teach that you shouldn’t get too attached to your patients, but I think you should get attached to them – know their families, their parents and grandparents and children.”
Greene says he would like to see medicine move toward a more patient-centric model and less doctor-centric.
Something CHI Memorial is doing to offset the doctor-centric model is adding a patient navigator to help patients coordinate care among primary care clinics, specialty clinics and other services.
“I feel good about what CHI Memorial is doing in Northwest Georgia,” says Greene. “It’s an exciting time.”