Although Vanderbilt is a major referral center that takes other hospitals' unusual and difficult cases, it is also a source of ordinary care for Nashville-area folks. Almost 80 percent of Vanderbilt patients live within 50 miles—40 percent of them within a 10-mile stone's throw. It's where locals get their physicals and cancer screenings, have their kids' playground lacerations patched up, and otherwise avail themselves of everyday medicine.
"I go a long way back with Vanderbilt," says Nashville resident Nancy Hillin. Some 40 years ago, her daughter received care for a lacerated kidney after falling off a pony. More recently, her son was treated there for a liver problem. And 11 years ago, Hillin had angioplasty and a stent placed because of a blockage in a coronary artery. Now, she sees a Vanderbilt cardiology team regularly. "When we really needed the best, we went to Vandy," says Hillin, 74, whose primary-care physician is elsewhere.
Knowing their business. Aaron Smith, also of Nashville, is another Vanderbilt longtimer. He has been going to internist Richard Hock for regular checkups for nearly 20 years. Hock was recommended by a friend when Smith, 79, returned to Tennessee after three years in California. "I don't expect them to know everything," Smith says of his primary-care team, "but I expect them to know who to send me to if I have a problem."
They've been "excellent" at doing just that, he adds. After a 2002 stroke left him with diminished sight and working to relearn how to walk and talk, Smith surmounted the setback with the aid of Vanderbilt specialists from cardiology to neurology. He also uses the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, one of the busiest clinics (43,590 eye exams in 2007), to help him retain his remaining sight.
Smith's wife, Betty, 76, also a Vandy patient, says the continuity of care between departments has her sold. "We love the fact that when you go, your records are there," she says of their electronic medical record system. "That's No. 1 in my book."