True healing begins when we empower ourselves with knowledge, challenge the status quo, and embrace holistic care as the gateway to genuine wellbeing. In this episode, Dr. Jack Wolfson, a renowned cardiologist, sits with Dr. Ben Edwards, the founder and medical director of Veritas Medical. Together, they discuss the misconceptions surrounding conventional medicine and the need for a paradigm shift in our approach to healthcare. With two medical doctor grandfathers, Dr. Edwards witnessed the stark contrast between the old-school healing mindset and the pharmaceutical-driven culture that dominates the medical field today. He reflects on the days when doctors truly taught and assisted in the healing process, armed with natural remedies and a genuine belief in the power of holistic care. As the episode progresses, Dr. Edwards sheds light on the alarming rise in chronic diseases and the limitations of the current medical system in addressing them effectively. Drawing attention to the staggering outcomes and data, he emphasizes the importance of informed consent and patient empowerment. Dr. Wolfson and Dr. Edwards question the prevailing notion of blindly accepting a single medical opinion and encourage a more open and collaborative approach to healthcare decision-making. Tune in and discover a new perspective on healthcare that embraces the power of holistic approaches and advocates for informed choices. Join the movement towards a healthier, more empowered future.
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Sickcare Vs. Healthcare: The Truth About Holistic Wellbeing With Dr. Ben Edwards
I’m truly honored to have a friend on the line. I’ve never met Dr. Ben in person, but he truly is a brother from another mother in the sense that we are both on board and very aligned. That’s why Dr. Ben is here. Dr. Ben Edwards, Veritas Medical, welcome.
Jack, thanks a lot for having me today. It’s an honor to be on your show.
It’s an honor to have you on because you are changing the lives of thousands of people in your community down in the great state of Texas. You’ve been kind enough to refer me to some of your patients for cardiovascular issues when needed. I want to thank you for that and your trust and faith in me. Ultimately, we got a lot going on in order to awaken everybody to holistic health and wellness. If you would share some of your origin story and what made you change over to the good side.
I’d be happy to. I agree, there’s a lot of work to be done. That’s what launched me into this. Originally, I grew up in Central Texas in a small town. Both of my granddads were medical doctors, old-school GPs. They did everything. They could do surgeries, deliver your babies, from the nursing home to cradle to grave deal, house calls, and all that kind of stuff. I grew up watching these guys doctor the whole community. It was awesome. They impacted the whole community in a very positive way. I thought, “That’s what I want to do.” I could never get peace with going into any other field.
I changed my major five times in undergrad looking for some other way out of this thing because, also, medical school is hard to get into. Once you’re in, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to take a lot of time, the debt that you come out with, just all that. At the end of the day, it was clear I was supposed to go to medical school, so I did.
I undergrad at Baylor Med School at UT Houston, the Texas Medical Center. MD Anderson did most of my rotations there. That’s an amazing institution of higher learning from a conventional mindset. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know anything about allopathic. My great-granddad was an MD, and two of my uncles are MDs. I didn’t even know what a chiropractor did. I didn’t know what homeopathic even meant. Literally, zero. I went to school to help people.
I saw my granddads help people. Interestingly, they pulled me aside when I told them I’m going to med school. “I want to be like you all. I want to be a small-town country doctor.” They both told me, “You’re going to need to be willing to listen to people. That’s the main thing they need. You better bring your counseling or psychology books for med school into that small town you end up in.”
If you’re going to be a small-town country doctor, you need to be willing to listen to people.
UT Houston, I graduated there. I went to the Waco family practice because they trained doctors to set the broken bones, do the colonoscopies, deliver the babies, do the C-sections, and be that small town do-it-all doctors. Waco was great. It’s one of the top FP or Family Practice programs in the country. I was chief resident there, not because I was the smartest guy, but because I’m the nice guy who could get along with everybody and keep the team together.
I left there and went to Garza County, a little county out in West Texas. The total population of the county was about 6,000. They did not have a doctor in the whole county and the surrounding counties even did not have a physician. There was a county clinic there, a hospital that shut down. The county clinic was limping, along with a nurse prac there a couple of days a week, losing money every month. Taxpayers were making that difference up. My wife and I felt like we need to be there for the community. They needed a doctor. We went there and it was great. We spent seven years there.
Not bragging about myself because the community got behind us and supported us, but we were able to take that clinic from losing $10,000 a month to making more than that a month. They got them out of the red into the black. The taxpayers were off the hook. The tax money could sit there and build up in the taxpayer account. It did to the tune of $1 million in the healthcare district’s bank account.
The clinic was self-sufficient based on volume. One thing Waco family practice also taught me was the business side. You crank through seven-minute visits and you combo those visits. You do procedures and you talk about diabetes and get paid a little bit for that, but then cut out an ingrown toenail, cut off a sebaceous cyst, freeze a mole, and pick earwax out of the ear. I got paid $125 from Medicare for picking earwax. Anything I did with my hands, I got paid more. I learned that. They taught me that, so we were able to financially turn things around.
We’re in the top 95th percentile of all clinics in America on the finance side. They built a brand new clinic. The Washington Post came down. I don’t know how they got the word about us, but they came to Post, Texas, and sent a reporter and a photographer to follow me around for a week. I’m painting a picture here for the audience that I was living my dream. We were front page of the Washington Post, then the TV station called and want to do a reality TV show. We said no to that.
A brand new clinic, a million dollars in the healthcare district’s bank account, and at the front page of the Washington Post. We got fame and fortune. Everything’s going great. Every month, we get the financials coming in from corporate. They’re just saying, “This clinic’s blowing it out of the water.” I’m getting puffed up with pride. Seven years into this, I started scratching my head a little because nobody was getting well. I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do. I’m a highly trained physician, UT Houston, Waco family practice, top programs in the country, but no one’s getting well.
I’m just adding medicine all the time. Like diabetes, I give them metformin, and their sugar would come down for a while and stabilize, but eventually, a year or two down the road, I’m increasing the dose and I’m adding a second agent and a third agent. “By the way, now I’ve got heartburn. I’ve got hypertension.” I’m just adding meds all the time in seven-minute visits.
A seven-year-old in Garza County, I diagnosed with type two diabetes, an adult-onset diabetes. Right about that time, my nurse practitioner who had celiac disease went to a bed and breakfast, a getaway weekend with his wife. At the bed and breakfast in Amarillo, Texas, he told the innkeeper, “I’ve got celiac. I need a gluten-free pancake.” She said, “I can do that. There’s a doctor here that could help you with that, can reverse that, and cure you of that.” My nurse practice said, “No, you don’t cure celiac.”
Anyways, the lady kept pestering them. He, to be polite, basically said, “Let me talk to this doctor.” They conversed for about four hours. This doctor convinced him that you could steward your GI tract and steward your whole body and maybe you can put this thing into remission. He convinced my nurse practitioner and make some diet and lifestyle changes. My nurse prac did that over a 3 to 4-month period. He didn’t tell me he was doing this, but I could see my nurse prac was getting healthy. He trimmed up a little bit. He wasn’t overweight but trimmed 10 pounds off. His complexion improved. His energy improved. You could just see vitality coming out of him. He told me his personal times on his bicycle riding, because he was a competitive rider, were improving.
He came to me 3 or 4 months into all this and said, “Doc, I’m cured of celiac.” I’m like, “You’re crazy. Get back to work.” I didn’t believe him. He said, “Okay, I’ll prove it to you.” He went to the break room, got a breakfast burrito one of the drug reps had brought, and ate the tortilla with gluten. He went and got a hamburger at lunch and ate the bun. He got some cookies another drug rep had brought that afternoon. He ate three things that one day and he came to work the next day and was totally fine. Normally, he’d be in the bathroom with diarrhea and cramps and all that.
Looking back, that was the pivotal moment. I looked at that thing and said, “Either that was just some crazy miracle one-off kind of thing, or maybe there’s something to what he did.” For my next celiac patient, am I going to just say, “Eat gluten-free for the rest of your life?” That’s what I learned at MD Anderson to do, or “Talk to my nurse prac. I don’t know what he did, but you may want to implement some of the things he did and see what happens.’”
No Diseases, Just Consequences
I decided that was the way to go. I needed to offer two options. I called the doctor in Amarillo and said, “What are you doing? Who are you? What’s going on? What’s all this craziness?” He told me in probably the first five minutes of our phone call, “Ben, there’s no such thing as diseases. They’re all consequences. They happened to have all come over the past 100 to 120 years.” I rose up and, in my mind, thought, “You are nuts.”
There’s no such thing as diseases. They’re all consequences.
I grabbed my patient list from the day, 40 patients I’d seen that day, and I just went right down the list, “Ulcerative colitis, asthma, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, and lupus.” I said, “No such thing as diseases? What do you think all those are?” He said, “No, they’re consequences. Google every one of those diseases with the word inflammation next to it. You’ll see a connection between every disease and inflammation. That’s the common denominator. What drives inflammation is diet and lifestyle.”
Anyways, I went back and forth with him for about a year. I could not accept the fact that what he was saying could be true. “It couldn’t be true. I would’ve learned it in med school. They would’ve taught me in medical school if that were true,” is what I was thinking for a good year. I went back and forth with him.
Finally, the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was he said, “Send me your ten sickest patients, the ones that have been to all the specialists, they’ve been to Dallas, to UT Southwestern. They’ve been everywhere.” I sent them my worst lupus patient, the worst diabetic that needed insulin and refused it, chronic prostatitis that wouldn’t resolve, ulcerative colitis that couldn’t get under control and all these different ten sick patients. They all came back well. Most of them, all the way well, like off their meds, blood sugar normal, not diabetic anymore.
Those ten patients were my patients for seven years in Garza County. I’d seen these guys. I knew these guys. I went to church with them and lived with them. I knew these people. I knew they weren’t lying. I knew their medical history. I had prescribed most of those medications that they were now off of. That was it. That was the moment when I said, “This is true.” The fact that my intellectual mind and my professional training, I can’t reconcile that. It was cognitive dissonance. The bottom line, I went to med school to help people. These ten people are well, and they did it through techniques that I didn’t learn in school. They’re well. I’m going to learn this. I’m going that way. That was it.
The person you’re speaking of, the physician that you serendipitously encountered or preordained encountered in order to keep you on your path of where you needed to go was the late Dr. Roby Mitchell. Dr. Roby was a dear friend of mine, and he’s how you and I got connected. There are so many people who Dr. Roby Mitchell touched their lives, certainly from a patient standpoint, but also a practitioner standpoint. He impacted so many.
You and I as practitioners, the downstream effects of that are like your two grandfathers guiding you where you needed to go and telling you that you needed to listen to people. In part of your listening, there was also the psychology or psychiatry aspect of how we deal with people and not psychiatry as far as pills and whatnot and pharmaceuticals, but a matter of listening and finding out how we can help people with emotional and mental wellness. Dr. Roby was very impactful on my life and my wife’s life. That was such an incredible thing.
From there, after you have this epiphany moment of where you’ve been is just not the right place and the places you’ve been to, Texas Heart Institute, that’s where open heart surgery was invented with DeBakey and Denton Cooley. What’s amazing too is that I spoke there a few years ago. They had an integrative healthcare symposium. The fact that they had integrative in there was a miracle considering where that place comes from, and, as you said, the revenue generation. You’re very successful personally and professionally, but then you have the epiphany moment. Where do you go from there? Did you have any colleagues who thought differently about your move?
Yes, I did. From there, I went directly to the Garza County Hospital board just to give them a heads up that I’d learned this thing that was helping people. From what I could clearly see, these visits take 1 to 2 hours, not 7 minutes. I gave them a heads-up that if a patient requested to try to get to the root of a problem and fix it, I was going to grant them that. I was going to give them an hour.
I told the board, “If enough people request this, revenue generation’s going to go down.” “It’s not going to work, so we got to figure something out.” I came up with this plan to bring in another doctor to do conventional running. I could do the nutritional stuff. That plan just wouldn’t jive financially. They asked me to leave. That was a shocking moment on a Friday afternoon. They said, “Be out by Monday morning.”
I’m a real stay-in-the-lines kind of guy. I never got in trouble growing up. I never even went to detention in school. Just follow the rules. People pleaser is what it boiled down to, which isn’t good, since I’ve learned that. That was a shock. I was like, “I got fired?” At the same time, a part of me was like, “I am free.” I called my wife. I said, “Meet me at the clinic. Bring the truck. We got to load up our stuff. We got to be out by Monday morning.” We took a week off to decompress and celebrate. We went to a used office store, got a desk, two chairs, and a laptop, and went to Downtown Post, Texas, Garza County. We rented out a room from the Farm Bureau Insurance agent who had an extra 12 x 12 room for $100 a month.
I’m in this whole thing for $500. I’m ready to go, hung up my own shingle, called Roby, and said, “Roby, what should I charge?” On the business side, I didn’t have a clue. He’s like, “I charge $500 for a new visit, $250 for a follow-up.” This was ten years ago. He said, “You can’t do that. You don’t know what you’re doing really.”
The Body is Designed Perfectly
It was funny. It was true. I’m going to start this thing, and I don’t know what I’m doing. He was guiding, teaching, and encouraging me all along. He was awesome, having Roby there walking with me. It was early there when I felt in my spirit that the body’s designed perfectly. It knows what to do. If the first heart attack in America was in 1912 and before that there were none, the body knows how to keep itself from having a heart attack. It knows how to keep sugar normal, blood pressure normal, and everything else if we give it what it needs and avoid what it doesn’t.
That’s what you and everyone believe in this field, I think. I took that to heart like, “I’m going to double down on this lifestyle thing where you eat like your ancestors, get up and move, and get some sun.” That’s where these four pillars came to be, nutrition, hydration, movement, and peace, and I started educating people on those four things.
We can dabble and get into this integrative different protocols, supplements, IVs, whatever, but that’s not the main thing. The main thing is these four pillars. We’re going to educate you hardcore on that. We’re going to walk with you and encourage you in those things. If we need to pull from some of these integrative techniques, I call it the green version of symptom management to a degree, but there is a time and place to supplement things in there where the diet’s deficient in particular and some targeted therapeutics.
From the beginning, several years ago, education is where I camped out. From there, it grew through word of mouth. Now, we’ve got three locations across Texas. I’ve got a number of nurse practitioners under me, mid-level providers, and a lot of wellness navigators, which are health coaches. We’re trying to educate West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. You know how it is. People get the word from all over the region and even across the country. It has been a blessing to be able to reach a lot of people with the truth. A lot more ears need to hear it. COVID has opened a lot of those eyes and ears up. That’s an opportunity there too.
It’s been a great ride, ten years meeting folks like yourself and being able to refer to people. I had a physician assistant call me from Midland, “Who was that cardiologist? I remember you telling me about years ago.” There’s you. We’re looking for a referral from Midland, Texas. It’s great to know that there are other practitioners joining this community of like-minded folks that believe the body was made to function. It was and is, we just have to steward it.
Most certainly, those are all such fantastic points. Kudos to you for stepping outside of the box. I did it and it certainly wasn’t easy. There were a lot of people who were against what I was trying to do. I tried to make changes like you did on the inside of the group. What you quickly find out is that if you’re not making money for them, you’re not going to be part of the process very quickly. Other practitioners who’ve tried to start integrative programs at places like the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic quickly made their way out of there. It’s all an insurance-based volume, revenue-producing entity. It’s not easy to do what we did.
The first question I got that I didn’t mention in that was when I went to the board, I said, “Listen, people are getting healthy. The reflux or gastric degree is gone and hypertension resolved.” This is a nice guy. I went to church with him, about my age. All these guys were my patients, but they’re an elected board to steward the taxpayer money. That clinic had struggled for ten years losing money so they’re all about the financials every month at the meeting.
He said, “You’re telling me people’s cholesterol is going to get normal so they’re off their meds. They don’t have to come back every three months for blood work to look at their liver and their cholesterol.” I said, “Yes, that’s right. They’re not going to come back. They’re going to be well.” That was the only question they posed to me.
You can see the writing on the wall. That guy’s not evil. He’s not part of this pharmaceutical cabal. He’s just a regular farmer in a small community in West Texas. It’s just the mindset is so just in that system that it’s a business. That was a moment right there when he asked me that. I knew it was a business, but once you see that other side that people can get well and you start doing the deep diving away, “Where’d all this come from?” you trace it all back and you see all the natural healing modalities. It had been with us for centuries. In that Flexner Report in early 1900 with Carnegie and Rockefeller got together, all the medical curriculum was standardized to that allopathic model. Everybody else was demonized. That’s it. It’s been 100 years of downhill as far as outcomes.
The beautiful thing now is I’ve been introduced to some CEOs of different companies because corporate wellness is a big deal. You show these CEOs the hard data, “Statins are going to get you a 0.8% mortality benefit and add three days of your life. Maybe 3 or 4 days for every five years you take them and it’s a trillion-dollar industry. Chemo’s going to add the five-year survival, maybe 1%.” You start showing them hardcore numbers. We get the worst health outcomes of anybody in the world of the industrialized countries. We’re dead last.
I tell them “This is like here, locally, Texas Tech University giving the highest athletic budget to the football team. They get the most money of any athletic department in the country. They get the number one recruiting class every year and the best facilities in the country and then come in dead last in the Big 12 every year.” Nobody’s going to put up with that. We put up with it in the healthcare industry. When these CEOs see that and they see their second biggest expenditure after salaries is health insurance and they’re spending $3 million every year on Blue Cross Blue Shield for what? For last place, for 0.8% mortality benefit. These guys are connecting the dots and saying, “I’m out. Let’s figure something else out.” Especially since COVID, they’ve woken up.
In a lot of those people too, what I like to point out is that not only can we save you on the front end, but we make you money on the back end. Your workers are healthier. They are happier. When they are healthier and happier, they are better workers. Your brain is clear. Your body is functioning. You talk about somebody with celiac. How can you be a productive worker when you’ve got celiac and you’re constantly in the bathroom with bloody bowel movements or any of these different things where everybody has this sense of fatigue and they’ve got anxiety, stress, and all these different factors that inhibit their productivity?
It’s not about how to make better assembly line workers, although we make better assembly line workers. It’s about doing the right thing. Also, when we do the right thing, people are just better. We’re better in our marriages. We’re better parents. We’re better spouses. We’re better friends. We’re better members of the community. We’re better workers.
A Real Win-Win: You’re Onto The Truth
It’s a win-win-win. That’s when you know you’re onto the truth. That’s what I told a local CEO here and he was doing it for the right reason. This is public where he’s given his testimony, stage four pancreatic cancer diagnosed. Previous to this, he was a standard American milk duds Coca-Cola kind of guy. His wife was a patient of ours, very in line with taking care of her health, and then stage four pancreatic. He went to the local folks here who are great doctors and great surgeons. The surgeon opened him up to do a Whipple, closed him right up, and didn’t do it because the tumor was wrapped around an artery or something. They just told him, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do. Go enjoy your last remaining days.” This was not so long ago now. They gave him a couple of months to live.
Rick came and I sent him to a colleague down in Cancun, Dr. Tony Jimenez, Hope4Cancer, and had incredible results. Rick comes back with this revelation of the truth out there, not only personally for him, but benefited him greatly, he wants all his people to be benefited by this truth. He’s doing it for the right reason. He sees the numbers too. They’re moving to a self-funded plan. They’re going to make Hope4Cancer a preferred provider on their self-funded insurance plan. Any employee that gets cancer, that’s an option. If they want to do that, present the data, give them the choice, and go to MD Anderson if they want. These guys were doing it for the right reason for the benefit of the people, and finances will follow and everything else. It’s beneficial for the doctor too. It is a win-win-win all the way around.
I love when it’s a win-win-win for the good guys, and I love when it’s a lose-lose for the bad guys, not necessarily condemning all pharmaceutical companies because we both agree that there is a time and a place for pharmaceuticals typically in an emergency situation and a trauma situation. That being said, all the chronic diseases, if we can get rid of those labels and diagnoses with our methodologies of eating the right foods, healthy lifestyle, and having healthy thoughts, that’s going to be the best strategy.
We have to be allowed to question everything. I’d love where you talk about this. They’re like, “Let’s present people with the options.” You and I are not going to be the best to be able to present the chemotherapy option to a metastatic pancreatic cancer patient. We can say, “Let’s just have an open conversation. Go get an opinion from this conventional medical doctor and then come over here to Veritas or Natural Heart Doctor and let us give you our opinion,” and only then should you be able to make a decision.
When you do research on a car, a house, or your trip of where you’re going to stay, all these different vacation things, we study all these things. For some reason, we think that we should go into the medical doctor’s office, get that one opinion that is literally a life or death opinion, and then just accept that as gospel and then move on. Now, certainly post-COVID, we are now more informed than ever. The conversations have to happen more than ever. The freedom to choose is more important than ever.
Amen. I concur 100%. Here is what I tell patients, especially new patients or people calling that don’t understand what we do. They’re where I was, which was under this assumption when I walked across that stage at UT Houston, got my diploma, MD behind my name, I’m now Dr. Edwards, I had the assumption that MD Anderson and everybody there at UT Houston taught me everything that there is to know to help you, the patient. Aren’t we the best? Aren’t we the greatest institution of healthcare here in America? That was this assumption, and it was wrong.
That’s where most doctors are at, unfortunately, and patients are too. They feel like, “I’m going to go get my opinion from my doctor because he’s the best.” When you pull back that curtain and show them, “No, here are the outcomes. These outcomes aren’t the best and here’s the data. It’s the hard facts.” When I go give presentations, I’ll have doctors come up to me and say, “I didn’t know any of that. I didn’t know statins. That was the real outcome data, absolute risk reduction,” same with chemo and these different things. We’re under these assumptions.
That got us into trouble with COVID. People are putting all this blind hope, trust, and faith and not understanding these pharmaceutical companies like, “I don’t have the data in front of me,” but they’ve paid out millions and billions in fines and criminal judgments. We’re talking repeat offenders, huge criminal fines and convictions, but no one knows that.
People putting all this blind hope, trust, and faith and not understanding these pharmaceutical companies is what gets us in trouble.
We’re under these assumptions. They’re false assumptions. Just bring in the truth and then present the data. If Hope4Cancer gets 34% five-year survival on stage for pancreatic and MD Anderson gets 1%, you might want to look into it. Not everyone wants to travel to Mexico, that’s fine. If you had a good life and 1% is good for you, that’s fine. I’m not going to judge you. I’m not even going to try to coerce you. Here’s the data, you choose. Informed consent, that’s what we haven’t seen really across the board, but COVID highlighted that.
I love Tony Jimenez’s Hope4Cancer. What a great man. Dr. Ben Edwards, your origin story is fantastic. Kudos to you for doing what you’ve done. What an amazing background with two grandfathers who were both medical doctors. I love the old-school mentality. My father was a cardiologist as well. He certainly wasn’t of that generation. He was our parents’ generation. To that end, he was never a big pharmaceutical pusher, and your granddads were not pharmaceutical pushers. They didn’t have a lot in the toolbox. It was old-time remedies and more of this emergency trauma-type work.
Presumably, the people of that generation didn’t have the chronic illness that everybody has now. The obesity wasn’t there and the diabetes wasn’t there to any significant degree and natural remedies of what they had. No, they probably weren’t to the extreme that you and I are but just that genuine belief that a doctor means to teach and doctors can assist in the healing process. Now, where we stand now, they’re just glorified pharmacists. They’re just pill pushers. I’m glad that you and I are on the same team to get the truth out. Thank you again for being on the show.
You’re welcome. Thank you for having me too. That’s a real honor. You’ve done incredible work. Continue to do incredible work. I’m going to have to have you back on my show too. I’ve had some requests for a repeat interview with you. It’s a blessing. It’s been the biggest blessing of my life the last several years, being able to walk in more truth and being able to help people just as you are. It is very fulfilling. Thanks for the invitation. Thanks for all you do. I look forward to more chats in the future.
You got it. If you’re going to look for the best in primary care and holistic health and wellness, you’re going to go to Dr. Ben Edwards at Veritas Medical and his team over there. We’ll see you back next time with another episode.
About Dr. Ben Edwards
Ben Edwards, MD is the founder and medical director of Veritas Medical in Lubbock, TX. Ben did his undergraduate work at Baylor University and medical school at UT-Houston. He completed his family practice residency at Waco Family Practice where he was chief resident. He decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a “small town country doctor” at the Garza County Health Clinic in the small west Texas town of Post where he was the only doctor in the county. After 7 years of rural family practice, Ben was introduced to the concept of treating root causes instead of just the symptoms. So, he left (actually was fired) from the Garza County Health Clinic and started his own integrative medical practice that grew from a one room, one desk, one chair office in Post, Texas to his current practice where he oversees 7 nurse practitioners in Lubbock and also satellite offices in San Angelo, Abilene and Odessa, Texas.