Drs. Martha and Mack Clements don’t have to accept watermelons or high-brass shotgun shells as payment for medical services as they did when they began practicing medicine in Pine Mountain and Greenville in the late 1960s.
Other aspects of their medical practice, however, have not changed in their almost 50 years of providing primary care, preventive care and disease management for the people of Harris, Meriwether and Troup counties and beyond.
They are still as dedicated to working six days a week (including Saturday mornings) because of the calling they have to serve the medical needs of their community. They still get excited about treating the unusual illness that presents itself from time to time.
They still prefer giving their patients the most open-door access a doctor can give: Their policy for half a century has remained steadfast that they accept walk-ins only and no appointments.
“We’ve been doing walk-ins for 48 years, and it’s worked well for our patients, but the future will change this some,” Dr. Martha Clements said. “It has been exciting as a doctor, and it seems easier for our patients. You never know what’s going to be in the next room when you’re about to see a patient. We have the people in our community who we see over and over, and we have a lot of people visiting the Pine Mountain area from all over the country because of Callaway Gardens.”
Dr. Mack Clements said some patient visits have been more memorable than others.
“In my second year of medical school we studied about the loa loa worm from East Africa,” he said. “My buddies and I joked, ‘Yeah, bet we’ll see lots of cases of this,’ because we thought we’d never need to know that information as a doctor.”
But low and behold, a gentleman walked in his office one morning and said, “I have a worm behind my eye. Can you help me?”
“I thought about med school, and I asked him, ‘Have you by chance been to East Africa lately?’” he said. “And sure enough, he had. I told him to go into my office and pull down my medical textbook, third from the right.”
The worm wasn’t harmful to the man but was unnerving as it crawled behind his eye, and every so often, peeked out in front of it. Dr. Clements called several eye doctors in the area for assistance, but no one wanted to be a part of the loa loa worm extraction—or give any advice, for that matter, for they were all headed out their doors to a convention in New Orleans, La.
“I ended up successfully taking care of it, and then the doctors I’d called got back in touch with me to ask how I did it,” he said. “But I told them, teasing of course, that was something I was keeping to myself.”
“Dr. Mack,” as his patients call him, contends that “Dr. Martha” is the doctor their patients prefer to see, and that they “tolerate” him if she’s not available.
“They’re all loyal to her; who wouldn’t be? But if she’s not available, they’ll break their own rules and come see me,” he said. They share about equal time at their Pine Mountain and Greenville offices.
But for the most part, their schedules have them working separately at their Pine Mountain and Greenville offices. Any tests or procedures that Dr. Martha performs are reviewed by Dr. Mack when he rotates to the other office the next day, and vice versa.
“With our system, it’s like our patients get a built-in second opinion because two doctors are reviewing their charts on separate occasions,” Dr. Martha said. “It really works well. We don’t conspire to have the same opinions, but it works out that he takes up for me, and I take up for him because we usually come to the same conclusions.”
The couple makes an excellent team, but they said they couldn’t have been successful without the partnership they share with doctors in LaGrange, Columbus and Atlanta.
“We’re general practitioners—perhaps the last of the general practitioners—and while there’s a lot we can do, there’s a lot of wonderful doctors out there who we rely on to fix the things we diagnose,” Dr. Mack said. “Dr. Robert Copeland, for instance, came to LaGrange as a cardiologist at the same time we came to Pine Mountain, and he’s helped us through the years from the get-go.”
The Clements recently developed a formal affiliation with some of those same doctors by joining West Georgia Physicians, which consists of 21 medical group offices and 50 employed physicians whose specialties include gynecology, bariatric surgery, pulmonology, cardiology, urology, oncology and more. West Georgia Physicians, an affiliate of West Georgia Health, serves a six-county area of Troup, Meriwether, Heard and Harris counties in Georgia, and Chambers and Randolph counties in Alabama.
The Clements’ office at 454 LaGrange St. in Greenville is now known as West Georgia Physicians at Greenville, while their Pine Mountain office at 211 E. Broad St. is now West Georgia Physicians at Pine Mountain.
Call (706) 663-2574 for their Pine Mountain office and (706) 672-4251. Or better yet, because they only accept walk-ins, stop by their offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Both offices also are open 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and the Pine Mountain office is open 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays.