Dr. Paul Brock
General Surgery encompasses a wide range of expertise that a surgeon must master, and Dr. Paul Brock has spent 34 years perfecting his skills. Some of the medical conditions and diseases that Dr. Brock encounters include lung surgery for cancer, breast cancer surgery, any type of intestinal cancers like stomach, GI tract, colon, sarcomas, and any malignancies short of GYN and brain. In addition, he can operate on diseased organ systems, an infected gallbladder or appendix, and things that malfunction like hernias.
“We were classically trained to be very good at lots of different things,” says Dr. Brock. “My focus is on a holistic approach, and through that general surgeons have a very wide skill set to draw from.”
In addition to this array of topics in training, the years that Dr. Brock has spent caring for patients has further sharpened his expertise. “When you get to be my age as a surgeon, this is when you’re at the top of our game. You have experience, you have knowledge, you’ve seen a lot of patients, you can adapt to whatever changes arise, and you bring that to the table every time you sit and talk to a patient,” he says.
Part of caring completely for patients involves knowing when surgery is the best approach, and knowing when another option is the better choice. “When there are two equal options, one being a non-operative approach and the other being operative, I want to talk about the non-operative approach first because it’s less risky. Every surgery has potential risk associated with it so if you can minimize those risks with another alternative, that’s what we’ll do,” says Dr. Brock.
Primary care physicians also play a key role in helping prepare a patient to be healthy enough for a needed surgery. “There’s always the opportunity to operate, but it’s a harder decision to decide not to operate, and that’s the doctor you want, the one who knows enough to say, ‘this is a better option for you.’”
The best course of action that a person can take for improved overall wellbeing, and to help prevent some of these conditions aside from living a healthy lifestyle, is to see your primary care doctor regularly, Dr. Brock stresses. “They are set up to be preventative health doctors; they’re your best colleague and your best asset in terms of making sure you find diseases before they’re a problem,” he says.
Establishing a great relationship with your primary care doctor allows them to do everything possible to reduce your risks. “They’ll be looking for signs of lung cancer if you’re a smoker, looking for colon cancer, or prostate cancer, or breast cancer, all the while helping you to prevent these diseases as well.”
For General Surgery, cooperation between medical facilities is of the utmost importance, not only with other specialties and physicians at Harbin Clinic, but also with other hospitals in town. “We have a very collegial relationship with all of the physicians in town, and all of the hospitals in town. It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that all of these facilities are not only healthy but are also offering high quality care,” says Dr. Brock. “We have patients who are coming from a hundred miles away to get high level care, so it is important that all of us work well together.”
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Harbin Clinic has adapted to safely care for patients.
“At the beginning, elective surgeries were shut down and we were only working on emergent things like appendicitis, perforations, etc,” says Dr. Brock. “Our schedule is slowly getting back to normal but what we’re seeing now are patients who were afraid to come into the office, and they’ve stayed at home when they shouldn’t have. These patients should have had a diagnosis made two months ago, who are now coming in and getting treated later.” To those patients, Dr. Brock would like to communicate that Harbin Clinic offers a myriad of options to ensure safety. “We have telemedicine where you can video chat with a doctor without ever leaving your home,” he says.
“In addition, all of our offices are doing everything to follow COVID-19 safety precautions and ensure the health of our patients. We’re asking everybody to wear masks, providers and patients alike, and to this day, this office hasn’t seen a single COVID-19 case.” When it comes to Dr. Brock’s approach to patient care, transparency is key. “I think you have to be blatantly honest with a patient with good news and with bad news,” he says. “If a patient gets a hint at any point that you’re not telling them everything or that you’re delaying information, you’ve lost their trust and I find that very problematic. With my patients, they know that what you see is what you get. In addition to that, I look at every patient who comes through the door as if they were one of my loved ones, and that’s how I approach their care.”