Building Bridges: Serving in a small-town atmosphere

November 7, 2019By Lisa Savage

Editor’s note: National Rural Health Day is Nov. 21, 2019. Throughout the month, we are sharing stories to highlight the challenges and good work being done to improve health care in rural America. This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the Ardmore Connection.

Dr. Claude Bridges, left, receptionist Brandi Harvey, registered nurse Courtney Quillin, receptionist Laura Postoak, phlebotomist and medical assistant Heather Barnes and office manager/medical assistant Hillary Williams.
Dr. Claude Bridges, left, receptionist Brandi Harvey, registered nurse Courtney Quillin, receptionist Laura Postoak, phlebotomist and medical assistant Heather Barnes and office manager/medical assistant Hillary Williams.

He’s been practicing medicine for 33 years, the last 26 of them in the Ardmore area. Bridges works at Ardmore Clinic on First Street, providing health care to patients in both Alabama and Tennessee. Ardmore Clinic is part of Lister Health Care based in Florence.

“I really like the small-town atmosphere here, and it often feels like Floyd’s barbershop in Mayberry,” Bridges jokes. “Being here allows me to build a relationship with the people I see year after year.”

Bridges grew up in Huntsville and Ardmore, Tennessee. He attended the University of Tennessee College of Medicine from 1980 to 1984 and did his family practice residency in Jackson, Tennessee, until 1987. Then he settled in North Alabama.

Bridges and his wife, Freida, have been married for 40 years, and they have seven children. Bridges is an avid hiker and treks often through the Southeast. He and his family are also involved in their local church.

Years of experience

Bridges gained invaluable experience as an emergency room physician and spent time in Muscle Shoals at Med Plus and at Athens-Limestone Hospital before coming to Ardmore Clinic.

A few years ago, he had to take a week off for a medical situation of his own. By the end of the week, he missed the daily routine of seeing patients. “I believe that time away renewed my commitment to medicine and caring for my patients,” he says.

At the clinic, Bridges has a staff of five. Brandi Harvey and Laura Postoak manage the front office flow. Heather Barnes is the lab technician, and Courtney Quillin is the annual wellness nurse. Hillary Williams is Bridges’ medical assistant.

“They’re such a great group of people, and their willingness to help Dr. Bridges and the patients is immeasurable,” says Suzanne Bolton of Lister Health Care.

The clinic offers general medical care with a primary physician in addition to urgent care, sports physicals, vaccinations, chronic care management and annual wellness checks. They also provide on-site X-rays, ultrasounds, stress tests and lab services.

The clinic accepts appointments, but they also see walk-in patients. “The earlier you come for a walk-in appointment, the better,” Bolton says. “We’ll get you cared for as soon as we possibly can.”

The clinic uses broadband internet through Ardmore Telephone to support the electronic health records and medical records, a requirement of the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The staff also uses NextGen electronic health records. “We’ve gone completely electronic and moved away from paper charts,” Bolton says.

Bridges loves his patients and takes pride in getting to know them on a personal level. He doesn’t hesitate to refer a patient to a specialist, however, if he feels a patient would be better served.