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Heroes in the Community: Brian McGinnis of Catawba County Medical Group

By Sam Perley

When Brian McGinnis normally opens a new medical facility, he has weeks, even months to get operations up and running. When the coronavirus pandemic began taking centerstage over two months ago, he and his team had a fraction of the time. 

“We instantly almost overnight realized we had to change our operations,” he explained. “One of the things we did was we [took one of our] medical practices that was open and functioning normally, and moved those patients and providers out of that location and into a different location. Then, we created what we call an Acute Respiratory Clinic (ARC).”  

He added, “That moved the possible COVID patients to that one location and kept the non-COVID patients at other facilities. That was not an easy thing to do. Most of the time when we open a new practice, we have months, at least weeks to open it. For this, we had a weekend. We tried to really move operations quickly in order to respond to the disease.” 

McGinnis currently serves as the President of Catawba County Medical Group, which is based in Hickory, NC, while he resides in Belmont. Altered a bit by the pandemic, McGinnis’ day-to-day responsibilities primarily involve supervising the area’s various different medical groups, while the hospitals have their own operational plans in place.  

“I manage and hire physicians, make sure all the practices are operating efficiently and effectively. Overall, it’s management and oversight of our medical practices. What people fail to realize is that a medical practice in itself has physicians, the front office staff and clinical support staff, but when you add multiple locations, it adds a layer of complexity in today’s world, with filing an insurance or meeting a regulatory requirement.”

“Healthcare is the second-most regulated industry when judged by the number of regulators. The only other one that has more agencies regulating it is nuclear waste. Not even banks have as many agencies regulating them as healthcare. It’s very complex. So, what I do in a pre-COVID world is make sure the medical groups meet all the requirements and are able to sustain their operations and move forward.” 

Managing the response to a new disease takes a lot of resources, patience and timely decision-making, all of which McGinnis has had to utilize over the past few months. 

“The first thing is responding and making sure we’re meeting all patient needs. It’s understanding a new disease for us and looking for governmental aid to help us understand what we’ve learned so far around the world. Of course, we pay attention to the CDC, but we also pay attention to the Federal Task Force, our Governor and our local health departments.”

Outside of work, McGinnis was in his fourth season as a Swarm 365 member before the NBA suspended play on March 11. A father of three to 14-year-old Ian, 11-year-old Aidan and eight-year-old Emma, it’s his middle child that has gravitated most to the Hornets so far. 

“When I was growing up, I was really a college basketball guy, but Aidan seems to be an NBA guy,” he said. “About four years ago, we would come to a game every now and then and I would see him participating in the Hornets Hoops area upstairs. I saw him enjoy that and the game and I thought, ‘I wonder what it’d be like to have season tickets?’ That first year, we got to meet other Swarm 365 members around us, saw them every game and got to know them. It created a community for us, a small community that liked to talk basketball.” 

The father-son combo has also adopted a rather unique approach to viewing the games this season with the team currently focusing on youth and development. 

“We changed in terms of what we enjoyed about the game,” he said. “Before, we were all about winning the games, but since then, we’ve been watching more of the dynamic nature of the basketball. The things that we remember are like when our younger players make spectacular dunks or great behind-the-back plays. We’re just gluing our eyes to the game and are on the lookout for the next explosive play.” 

Like most Charlotte Hornets fans, McGinnis misses the regular visits to Spectrum Center, which will hopefully be back sooner than later when everything’s clear and safe. The absence of NBA basketball and overall normalcy hasn’t dampened his optimism about what lies ahead though.

“As somebody who manages staff that’s providing services for COVID patients and for somebody that loves basketball, I know we’re going to make it through this. We’ve got this, we’re going to make it through and be better on the other side for both healthcare and basketball in general.”

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