Berkley brings big-city medicine to Liberty Hill Physician Associates

Dr. W. Gregory Berkley of Liberty Hill Physician Associates (Photo by Shelly Wilkison)

There’s no reason to go to Georgetown, Austin and points beyond when Liberty Hill now has the medical expertise and experience to handle most any health concern.

“This is big-city medicine with the heart of a small town,” said Dr. W. Gregory Berkley of Liberty Hill Physician Associates.

Dr. Berkley’s medical practice opened two weeks ago under the umbrella of Cedar Park Regional Medical Center, and already he has about two dozen patients.

Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Nuclear Cardiology, Dr. Berkley said he is excited about returning to his home state and building a practice in Central Texas.

Berkley grew up in Texas and graduated from the University of Texas before going on to study medicine. He earned a medical degree from  the American University of the Carribbean School of Medicine in Montserrat, British West Indies. He completed a residency at Presbyterian University of Pennsylvania and a fellowship in Nuculear Cardiology at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Until three weeks ago, he has spent the past 22 years in Atlanta where he built a practice of 15 doctors with multiple specialties.

“I’m not a mover. I’ve been in the same place for 22 years, so this wasn’t a decision made on a whim,” he said.

“I guess you could say that I’m reinventing myself. The truth is that I wanted to come home to Texas,” he said.

With family in various parts of the state, his oldest son at the University of Alabama and his daughter about to start high school, Dr. Berkley said he and his wife decided this was a good time to make a move.

“My goal is to have a professional, efficient office here, and it’s exciting starting a practice from the ground up,” he said, adding that his practice in Atlanta had 100 employees when he left.

Dr. Berkley, 50, said he is pleased to be part of the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center team of doctors and surgeons. He said he was actually interviewing for a position with a Victoria hospital system, when he learned about the opening with Cedar Park.

“I just drove in one day and started talking to people at the hospital, and it was a good fit,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with their team of experts.”

While Dr. Berkley’s Liberty Hill office will see adult patients and students age 15 and older, other doctors in the Cedar Park system are available to serve families with younger children and address other special health care needs.

“In Leander and Cedar Park, it is a relatively young population, and there are more individuals of median age,” said Laura Balla, director of Business Development and Marketing for Cedar Park Regional Medical Center. “As we looked at Liberty Hill, it seems the rest of the family — older, some disabled, older adults — were here in need of care that was closer to home.”

She said many had transportation issues making it difficult to travel long distances for medical attention.

“We are interested in meeting the health care needs of this area. We feel like we have a good team in place in Liberty Hill as the area continues to grow,” she said.

Liberty Hill Physician Associates is the hospital’s latest primary care facility to open in Williamson County. Physicians are also in Avery Ranch, Buttercup, Lago Vista and Leander. Inside the hospital, there are offices for an OB/GYN practice and an occupational medicine clinic.

“Whether it’s a stumped toe or heart problems, we take our jobs here very seriously,” said Dr. Berkley. “It’s important for patients to know that we keep up with the lastest standards in medicine and new age technology. Why go all the way to Austin when you have the medical expertise and experience right here in Liberty Hill?”

Dr. Berkley said he knew as early as seventh grade that he would some day become a doctor. He remembers being intrigued by science classes and spending countless hours looking through the printed encyclopedia where transparent pages of the various systems laid on top of each other to form the human body.

In college, he considered different courses of study. At one time, he thought he might be interested in hospital administration and the business side of the health care industry, but said he didn’t enjoy the coursework.

He added that his mother was a medical technician and was a big influence in his decision to become a doctor rather than an administrator.

“I tried different things,” he said. “I even took classes in petroleum engineering. My dad was in the oil business.”

Dr. Berkley said he realized early on that his career choice was more influenced by his interest in helping people than it was about making money.

While he admits he is no politician, he has some strong opinions on health care reform. Dr. Berkley says the top priority should be improved access for people who need medical care.

“It should be more accessible,” he said. “We have all the doctors we need, but no one has access. I’m for standardized pricing. Whether someone has no insurance at all or is the richest guy around with all the land, we should treat them the same.”

He said the public debate on the issue seems too often to center around the money.

“But that’s not me,” he said. “If you take care of the patient, I’ve found that the patient will take care of you.”

Dr. Berkley said every day, his personal goal is to “help make someone else’s day better. I think I have the kind of personality that takes time with patients and really listens.

“I take something out of each day and learn from it,” he said. “My goal is to try every day to make someone problem free, to take someone who is hurting and turn it around.”

Dr. Berkley says he shares many of the same struggles facing his patients, especially when it comes to eating healthy and staying fit.

“My weight is always an issue for me, and I try to follow a low carb diet,” he said, adding that finding time to exercise is always a challenge.

With his family in Atlanta for the remainder of the school year, he said life is a bit hectic as he tries to commute. For now, he is living in an apartment in Cedar Park and traveling back and forth to Atlanta when he can.

He said his family has not decided yet whether to make a home in Liberty Hill or in a neighboring community. But, he has noticed that people seem to be happier here than in Atlanta.

“Texans just have a different attitude about things,” he said.

Dr. Berkley’s office is managed by  Barbara Bingham of Liberty Hill. Ms. Bingham is a certified medical assistant and a national registered EMT. Assisting with patient care is  Elaine Brown, a certified medical assistant with 14 years experience. Ms. Brown is from Florence.

Liberty Hill Physician Associates is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, from 1-6 p.m. on Thursday, and from 7:30 a.m. to 12 Noon on Friday. The office is closed from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday. Most insurance is accepted, including Medicare.