By Barbara Pierce
Physician is now the leader of Slocum-Dickson Medical Group. He discusses his career and plans for the physician-owned and -operated group
Q: What is the Slocum-Dickson Medical Group?
A: We’re physician-owned and -operated; with both primary care physicians and specialists, we collaborate to work together, providing high quality to care to Central New York.
The Slocum-Dickson Medical Group has been in business since 1938, caring for this community. It started with three physicians who made a practice on Genesee Street in Utica. The group has grown over the years; we now have more than 70 physicians.
We have a campus on Burrstone Road in New Hartford and another campus in Ilion and we’ll have a third site opening this summer on Business Park Drive.
It’s a wonderful model, with primary care physicians and specialists under one roof, collaborating. It remains a pillar in the community. We intend to grow and expand our footprint in the community. As we continue to expand, our focus is still on patient-centered, physician-directed, quality care.
Q: You’ve been a member of Slocum-Dickson’s board of managers since 2019. What will your new role as president entail?
A: As president of the board, I’ll chair the board and manage the day-to-day operations of the group. I’ll oversee all aspects of the group to ensure that high quality standards are upheld and that patients have the best possible experience with us. There are many exciting changes coming for us.
Q: What exciting new changes will we see?
A: This summer we’ll be opening a new site down the street on Business Park Drive. At this location, we’ll focus on women and children, with cutting-edge breast care, OB-GYN, pediatrics, radiology and dermatology. The extra space will let us bring in more specialists and primary care physicians. And there will be more parking.
We’ll have an entire building of physicians, all under one roof. We provide a very caring, collaborative partnership. Your primary doctor is in the same building with specialists. We can call or walk over to them, making it easy for us to collaborate.
Slocum-Dickson Medical Group is all about comprehensive care, with all of our physicians working together for the benefit of our patients.
Another exciting new change is that we’ll be unveiling a new logo in conjunction with the opening of the Business Park Drive campus. We want to bring all three of our campuses together in one logo.
Slocum-Dickson Medical Group is all about comprehensive care, with all of our physicians working together for the benefit of our patients. Our goal was to combine this continuity of care and our long history into a modern new logo.
Q: Since 2018, you have cared for patients at the Slocum-Dickson Eye Care Center as an ophthalmologist. Will you continue to see patients at the Eye Care Center?
A.: Yes, I’m happy to say that I’ll continue to see Eye Care Center patients as a full-time ophthalmologist, as well as taking some time to handle the presidency. Our Eye Care Center is a full-service eye care center to the entire family, from babies to grandparents. We provide eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, cutting-edge surgery and whatever is needed.
As an ophthalmologist, I specialize in cataract surgery, often implanting artificial lens; I do all forms of laser surgery and treatment of various eye diseases, like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye.
Q: You are an ophthalmologist. At the Eye Care Center, you also have an optometrist and an optician working with you. What’s the difference?
A: Yes, there’s often confusion between an ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician. As an ophthalmologist, I am a medical doctor; I have an M.D. degree, am licensed to practice medicine and do surgery. I diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform surgery and can prescribe glasses and contact lenses.
An optometrist is not a medical doctor, but a doctor of optometry. They are licensed to perform eye exams and vision tests, prescribe glasses and contact lenses, detect eye abnormalities and prescribe medications for eye diseases.
Opticians are eye care professionals but not officially “eye doctors” and they cannot give eye exams. They are technicians trained to fit eyeglass lenses and frames and contact lenses to correct vision problems.
We have many good optometrists in the area; they do routine eye exams. If it’s beyond their scope, they refer the patient to me. We all work together. And we work together with opticians.
Q: How did you become interested in becoming an ophthalmologist?
A: My dad was an ophthalmologist with the Slocum-Dickson Group. I’m a second-generation Slocum-Dickson doctor and ophthalmologist. He was with the group for 30 years. I heard all of his stories. When I was only 5 years old, he showed me how to do cataract surgery, using a table napkin and a butter knife. That got me hooked!
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your practice?
A: What’s most rewarding about my practice is my interaction with patients. They come in with an issue; I’m able to help them; I’m able to deliver gratifying results. I’m excited about my new role as president; I’ll have a whole new set of gratifications.
Name: Alexander R. Harris, M.D.
Position: President of the board of managers of the Slocum-Dickson Medical Group and Ophthalmologist with Slocum-Dickson Medical Group.
Hometown: Mohawk Valley
Current Residence: New Hartford
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Boston University; medical degree from the Commonwealth Medical College of Pennsylvania in Scranton, Pennsylvania; post graduate training at Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, Pennsylvania; residency in ophthalmology at SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse
Affiliations: Member of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Personal: Married, one daughter, another due in August
Hobbies: Fitness, Adirondacks, music, piano, guitar.