Lanier Urgent Care to open dog-friendly clinic in Gainesville

Ruckus the therapy dog hangs out in the new Lanier Urgent Care clinic on Thompson Bridge Road. The pooch belongs to Lanier Urgent Care President Dr. Ronald Perry and has always accompanied him to work.
Ruckus the therapy dog hangs out in the new Lanier Urgent Care clinic on Thompson Bridge Road.

Perry tells the story of how his wife nearly flipped when she called to ask how the state inspection for the opening of his first clinic in Suwanee was going. Ruckus was a mere pup at the time.

Perry said he told his wife not to worry because Ruckus had his head on the inspector’s knee.

“My wife tells me, ‘You can’t have Ruckus there,’” Perry recalled. “I had to hand the phone to the inspector who told my wife, ‘There’s no problem, dogs are acceptable in a clinic. There’s no issue at all.’”

Perry smiled as he recalled that moment. He still has Ruckus by his side, and Rowdy, a 2-year-old field spaniel, as he prepares to open a new clinic in Gainesville — Lanier Urgent Care at 1429 Thompson Bridge Road.

Ruckus and Rowdy will spend most of their time at the Gwinnett Urgent Care, but Perry is making sure a dog will be available at his new clinic to help put patients at ease. Will Henson, Perry’s practice administrator at Lanier Urgent Care, bought a Labrador retriever, Doc, who will make his rounds.

Lanier Urgent Care President Dr. Ronald Perry, left, and master of health science J. Caleb Henson, PA-C have therapy dogs at the Thompson Bridge Road clinic. The friendly dogs help calm some patients especially children.
Lanier Urgent Care President Dr. Ronald Perry, left, and master of health science J. Caleb Henson, PA-C have therapy dogs at the Thompson Bridge Road clinic.

“We ask our patients when they sign in if they’d like to see the dogs before we bring them out,” Henson said. “Most of them, I’d say more than 90 percent, love to see the dogs.”

Perry said dogs may not be allowed in nail salons and restaurants, but as far he’s concerned, they fit right in at a doctor’s office.

“They don’t carry any communicable diseases that we can catch, not they can’t catch anything from us,” Perry said. “I have some patients who are afraid of dogs, (so) I have a command and Ruckus will go lie on his bed. He’s a trained therapy dog.”

Henson attributes Perry’s thriving practice in Gwinnett — the clinic saw 32,000 patients in 2016, and set an office record by attending to 152 patients in a single day — to the doctor’s passion for helping people, his friendly nature, vast experience and a flat-fee payment model his patients appreciate.

With the flat fee, around $125 depending on the insurance carrier, Henson said patients don’t have to worry about additional costs for X-rays and lab work.

“Our patients really like that,” Henson said. “That’s why we’ve been able to grow so much.”

Perry describes his billing as “very straightforward.”

“I don’t have to worry about getting the last nickel and dime out of patients by billing for every procedure,” he said.

Perry, who lives in Gainesville, started out as a paramedic, then worked in toxicology before finishing medical school to become a physician. He trained in Philadelphia.

What Perry loves most about having his dogs at the clinic is the way they help break the ice between him and his patients.

“We talk about the dogs,” he said. “Everybody has a story about a dog. We talk about the dogs for a couple of minutes, we’re now friends.”

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