Top doc in Atlanta has roots in Bowling Green
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Saturday, 23 February 2013 08:16
Even as a child, it was pretty clear that William "Bill" Paxton was destined to be a doctor.
|Dr. William Paxton (Photo provided)
The 1985 Bowling Green High School graduate worked as a nurse aide at Wood County Hospital for two years during high school, where he so impressed the professionals around him that he became the first school aide in hospital history to be awarded "Employee of the Month" honors.
Fast-forward 28 years later, and Paxton is impressing his peers in a vastly larger arena.
The home-town boy has been named to the list of "Top Doctors in Atlanta" by Atlanta Magazine, two years running. The magazine lists him as the best nephrologist in the massive metropolitan area for both 2011 and 2012.
What makes this honor really special is that doctors are voted on by fellow M.D.'s.
The list is compiled by a group that contacts doctors in the area and asks which doctors they would most highly recommend to their own family.
Paxton came up tops in the area of kidney disease.
"We are fortunate to have Dr. Paxton as a member of our medical staff," said Lisa Norton, medical staff office director at Emory Johns Creek Hospital in Johns Creek, Ga., where Paxton just completed a two-year term as chairman of the Department of Medicine.
"He is patient, kind-hearted and knowledgeable. Dr. Paxton's dedication to putting patients and their families at the center of his practice makes him a valuable physician to not only his patients and our hospital, but to the greater Atlanta area."
Paxton, who graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1989 with a B.S. in Chemistry, summa cum laude, went on to earn an M.D. Ph.D. from Emory University in Atlanta. He owns his own practice, Georgia Quality Kidney Care, in Lawrenceville, Ga. He and his two partners currently service four hospitals in suburban Atlanta and have at least one dialysis center.
His parents, former BG residents Sue and Bill Paxton, say they always knew young Bill would end up a doctor.
"From the time he was about 8 years old, that was his goal," said Sue Paxton. She recalls how his pediatrician at the time had a habit of affectionately referring to the boy as "Dr. Paxton" because he was curious about everything that went on during one of his visits. "He would constantly ask 'what's that for?'"
She suspects that her son's interest in medicine may have been fed by his own early familiarity with the medical field.
"He's blind in one eye" other than peripheral vision, she explained, and regularly saw ophthalmologists from 18 months of age. He went to the University of Michigan for treatment of the eye in junior high.
Paxton also had to wear braces on his legs at night to straighten them, starting at 9 months old.
Perhaps those early experiences led to the "rapport with patients and staff members" that his Wood County Hospital co-workers noticed back in 1984.
Paxton names three Bowling Green doctors, in particular, who influenced him.
"I shadowed Dr. Wojo (Thomas Wojciechowski) and that was a very positive experience; and I knew Dr. Milbrodt, and had a lot of respect for him. He had a reputation as a good diagnostician and I admired that."
He also lists Dr. William Feeman, whose daughter was in Paxton's class at the high school. "I remember his dedication. He would come in after hours to see his patients."
Both exceptional diagnostic abilities - intellectual curiosity to "look outside the usual suspects" - and after-hours dedication are attributes assigned to Paxton in 2013.
"I think I've always tried to treat my patients the way I would want my parents or grandparents treated. I learned early on, it's very valuable to learn who your patients are," Paxton explained.
"With my stable patients, I may spend as much time talking about what books are they reading, what are their grandchildren doing" as he spends directly addressing the patient's medical issues.
"Also, I'm a teacher at heart," he admitted, so he enjoys talking to them about what it means to have kidney disease.
Paxton is known for using down-to-earth language, rather than speaking "medicalese." He likes to use the analogy of 50,000-mile tires on a car to reassure patients that a diagnosis of kidney disease doesn't mean they'll be put on dialysis.
"Maybe they've had high blood pressure or diabetes for 10 or 20 years. They may be age 70 or so. Their kidneys are not brand new, they've got some wear and tear on them, but they don't need to be replaced."
Paxton and his wife, Lani Paxton, also an M.D. Ph.D., have four children - ages 14, 13, 10 and 6.