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Small-town atmosphere, big-time health care in New London

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:08 PM

NEW LONDON - New London is a very small town, but it can boast of three healthcare professionals, each of whom has served the community for many years.

Chiropractor Mike Collins has worked in the village for 33 years, he has raised his family there and both his wife and daughter are involved in his practice.

He likes the obvious advantages of a small town, such as no traffic jams, knowing almost everyone and being able to treat "friends and neighbors."

He says it is not necessary to do a lot of advertising because most of his patients "come as a result of knowing someone who knows someone else."

Because chiropractic does not rely on support services such as drugs and surgery, being miles away from these resources is not a hindrance; however, he does miss interacting with other professionals in his field.

The Internet helps fill this gap for Collins, as well as the fact that his son is a chiropractor in Seattle and they share knowledge and experiences.

General Dentist Louis Carratola has practiced in New London for almost 25 years. He, like Collins, has family members involved in the field, with his wife working in the New London office and a daughter studying at Ohio State with a goal of becoming an oral surgeon.

Carratola says practicing in a small community gives him an opportunity to treat people of all ages in "a variety of clinical situations," and he likes the diversity this provides.

He also enjoys being part of the community and part of people's lives. He offers as an example the fact his new partner, Josh Merrill, D.D.S., was a former patient who later worked in the office before joining the practice.

As medicine is becoming more socialized, Carratola says insurance companies and bureaucrats are calling more of the shots. This results in some patients being forced to go to preferred providers, which impacts many dentists in outlying areas.

He also points to Ohio's ranking fifth worst in the country for taxes, which is part of the reason businesses are closing down all over. That, he said, hurts everyone in the long run.

Thanking the community for its support over the years, Carratola urges everyone "to support local businesses."

Jeff Harwood has worked in New London for 18 years as a primary care physician, a field he says is shrinking because fewer doctors are going into the field because they prefer to be specialists.

He calls his practice in New London and North Fairfield "an anachronism," because the small-town doctor is disappearing fast as the costs of liability insurance soar, and the government controls what physicians can charge for many patients.

Physicians do not practice in small towns to become rich, and Harwood values many of the other rewards. He likes serving people "who appreciate their care" and give him "interesting cases and interesting relationships."

In addition to these practitioners, New London also has The Rehabilitation & Nursing Center at Firelands, a 50-bed nursing home which provides in- and out-patient rehab services, as well as nursing care.

Also, Fisher-Titus Medical Center has a facility at 111 E. Main St. in the front of the village hall building where people can have blood drawn and save themselves a trip out of town.

Unfortunately, a trip out of town is a necessity when prescription drugs are needed because the village lacks a pharmacy. In a series of town meetings held recently to gather information and opinions from residents concerning the future of the village, a pharmacy appeared at the top of almost everyone's list as the most important business missing from the community.

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