Doctor Garrett Kent hangs out his shingle in Great Falls

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By Brian Garner

Back when the small office on Chester Avenue in Great Falls was called Great Falls Family Medicine, the health needs of the community were looked after by a nurse practitioner for many years, but there hadn’t been a doctor in residence for nine years since the retirement of “Doc”, Dr. Hollis P. Snead, the much-loved family doctor, who passed away in 2011 and served as the town’s doctor. Until now.

The practice in Great Falls has become part of the MUSC Health network and was renamed Primary Care Great Falls, with Nurse Practitioner Alice Dalena dispensing the care from the office since May. She is joined at the practice now by Dr. Garrett Kent, the first physician to hang out his shingle in the office in nine years.

Community leaders and other dignitaries gathered in the small offices recently to celebrate the full staffing of the office.

Regional Practice Administrator Missy Hendrix said MUSC decided to provide a doctor for the location because there hasn’t been one there for a while. The small town nature of the practice will be no hardship for Dr. Garrett Kent, who comes from a little town named Due West, S.C. and was looking for a small town practice.

“The practice and he just fit together,” Hendrix said. She said Doctor Garrett and Alice Dalena are both accepting new patients, from ages 0 to 99. Doctor Kent will begin seeing patients on Aug. 12.

“We’ve got two good providers here, carrying on the legacy of Dr. Snead,” remarked Page Vaughan, CEO of MUSC Health Lancaster Division (which includes Chester).

Vaughan said MUSC did a “re-set” on the office, which has been renovated and updated.

“We’re part of MUSC. So everyone here is part of their faculty and have the back-up of a major medical university. It’s the Number One hospital in South Carolina, high-level academics, high-level research and complex services. The two practitioners and the staff here are part of a very large group – roughly about 1,000 doctors, that's what’s behind them. So they have a lot of resources,” Vaughan said.

The news of a new physician is good news to Great Falls citizens like Charles Wieland, who said, “I think the people are absolutely delighted. I know I am, I have been waiting for this day for a long time, and I plan to be a patient here as long as I’m here. I supported Dr. Snead when he was here and I’m sure Dr. Kent will be also. We have been very please also with Alice Dalena, the nurse practitioner. I’ve already seen her once, and I’m very impressed with her,” Wieland said.

Addressing the crowd, Vaughan said the two providers bring a lot to the Great Falls practice.

“They bring their expertise in medicine and education for patients, but they now bring the MUSC footprint – that means they bring 1,000 providers just in the medical arena, physicians and mid-level specialists working all across the state and a big research division behind them as well. They are both faculty members of MUSC. The practice is just a bigger thing than it ever was. That’s because MUSC chose to reach out to Chester and Lancaster counties. It’s one of the best thing I can think of that’s ever happened in local medicine,” Vaughan said. “And it’s just getting started.”