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New docs have a heart for rural medicine

Published August 29, 2013
The Hampton County Guardian

By: Michael M. DeWitt, Jr.
Managing Editor

Download a PDF of the article

One hails from Long Island. The other from right down the road in Ridgeland. But Hampton Regional Medical Center/Coastal Plains Primary Care's newest family practitioners, Dr. Tom Kucharchik and Dr. Malcolm Horry have a couple of things in common.

Both provided care as physicians within the Navy's medical system.

Both know and understand rural medicine.

And both want to be a part of your family.

In small communities like ours, your local doctor is more than just a physician. He or she is almost like a member of the family. They often see you without an appointment when you are ill. They help take care of your parents and grandparents in their final days. You even trust them with your most precious things, your children. In many cases, family doctors are passed down from one generation to the next.

Doctors Tom Kucharchik and Malcolm Horry knew that and appreciated it when they came to Hampton County. And they have a passion for rural South Carolina.

"Forty percent of America is still rural, and rural people deserve good healthcare too," Dr. Malcolm says. "Rural America matters…These are my people and this is my home."

To Hampton by way of the Holy City
"I was pretty much raised a city boy," admits Dr. Tom. "New York City was my playground."

Interested in family medicine - something you don't often find in the urban Northeast - Dr. Tom searched from coast to coast - from San Diego to Charleston - looking for a good place to complete his residency training.

"I did a ping pong trip all over the United States. Out of all the places I looked at, Charleston looked like the best place to do my residency. It topped all of the other places in the nation."

The Medical University of South Carolina liked him and offered him a spot, and in 1979 he moved to Mt. Pleasant to complete the three-year residency before working as a doctor in the local Naval Hospital. During his residency, he met an Ohio girl in Mt. Pleasant, got married, and started a family.

The Kucharchiks then moved to Connecticut, where Dr. Tom ran a private practice and practiced family medicine for a total of 31 years. But the Lowcountry drew him back. A medical search firm contacted him about a position at Hampton Regional Medical Center and he liked the facility and the staff. He signed on, moved back to the Lowcountry on June 24, and a few days later started seeing patients.

"We truly enjoyed living in the coastal Carolinas. They have a nice group of doctors at HRMC, and it seemed like I could fit in."

Looking back, he feels it was a great decision.

"I am enjoying getting to know the patients and their families. I like it here because you can get to know more than just the patient, you can get to know the whole family. And I feel like I am filling a very necessary gap in a community that could use a few more doctors."

Navy doctor returns home
Dr. Malcolm Horry has seen plenty of patients and plenty of the world during his medical career. He has worked at Naval Hospitals in Beaufort, Charleston, Florida, Spain, and Australia.

"I enjoyed the Navy," he says. "I had a good time, got wonderful training and met a lot of great people."

Dr. Malcolm retired from the Navy in 2005 after 27 years and was looking to practice medicine somewhere close to his roots.

"My dream had always been to return to my hometown and open a practice…These are my people, this is my home."

After practicing medicine in the area for several years and having previously worked with Hampton Regional, Dr. Malcolm contacted HRMC and signed on. He began seeing patients on Aug. 5.

A good fit
Dr. Tom says that he is very familiar with "The Big Three" that plague rural Southern communities in the Lowcountry: high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

"I see more people with diabetes than I do with head colds," he says.

Dr. Tom puts an emphasis on the importance of preventative medicine like routine physicals and health exams, and he stresses that not only does he cover pediatrics as part of his general family practice, it is one of his main areas of interest.

"In family medicine, we can handle 99 percent of the community's problems."

During Dr. Malcolm's career he has done everything from delivering babies to working in the emergency room.

"Family medicine is broad, and yet it is a specialty," he said. "I am used to dealing with children, the elderly, people of all ages."

"It's important for the community to know that we have the capability to handle pediatrics," said Lari Gooding, Coastal Plains administrator. "We now have a group of physicians who are trained to treat children and like to do so.

HRMC's master plan
Drs. Tom and Malcolm are the latest successes in Hampton Regional's plan to improve healthcare in Hampton County.

"When you are in a rural community, you can't just hire a warm body," Gooding points out. "It's tough to recruit physicians, but we have tried to take our time and find people who fit our needs and fit our community.

"We knew Dr. Horry well and recognized that patients loved him. And, Dr. Tom knows the rural areas and has a personality people love. Both have excellent training and experience that speaks for itself. I think they are going to be excellent practitioners here. We feel like they will be here for many years to come."

Gooding also reminds people that Coastal Plains is a group practice and that, if your regular doctor isn't in, you are welcome to see another on staff.

Gooding adds that HRMC hopes to eventually add two more physicians to adequately serve Hampton County's population.

Meet the new Docs

Dr. Tom Kucharchik
Age: 60, with hopes to practice medicine for ten more years.
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Now lives in: Beaufort
Family: Married to Patricia Kilcoyne and has two adult sons, Sebastian and John, and one grandchild.
Hobbies: Enjoys boating, tennis, biking and hiking
Education: Completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his medical degree at Columbia University. He conducted his family practice residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a board certified family physician.

Dr. Malcolm Horry
Hometown: Grahamville, S.C.
Now lives in: Okatie
Family: Got engaged to his high school sweetheart, Lynne, at the age of 16 and they have been married for 37 years. They have seven children and one grandchild.
Hobbies: Boating, reading, bird watching, church activities, working on carpentry and mechanics projects.
Education: Completed medical school at Wake Forest University and conducted his residency at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
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