Meet Dr. Craig Heigerick - DeKalb Medical Physicians Group/Beaver Ruin Primary Care
by Kim Hill
Dr. Craig Heigerick has been practicing medicine in the Lilburn area for over thirty years, but has never forgotten a paragraph from a book his mother gave him as he was leaving for college. It went something like this: “If you had a Ferrari, would you put recycled oil in it? Would you buy cheap gas? Would you buy re-tread tires? Probably not. Well, your body is the only Ferrari you’ll ever own.” Dr. Heigerick has taken that advice to heart through the years, being a positive role model to his patients by keeping his “Ferrari” in top running condition. At age 55, he started running triathlons, training fifteen hours a week. People told him he was crazy, and his response was that crazy was a really big advantage because you don’t know what you can really do unless you get a little crazy. Most people would say, “I could never do a triathlon.” Dr. Heigerick says, “But you have no idea, because you’ve never tried.”
Dr. Heigerick and his partner, Dr. Daryl Rampersad, make up Beaver Ruin Primary Care, an affiliate of DeKalb Medical Physicians Group. They see patients for coughs, colds, diabetes, hypertension, pneumonia, athletic injuries, dermatology, minor surgery, allergy testing, weight management, and much more. “We do the 80%; specialists do the 20%,” Dr. Heigerick says. The good news for patients who do need a specialist, or a diagnostic test such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound, is that the Beaver Ruin Primary Care team can make any needed referrals, and by being affiliated with DeKalb Medical, can assist patients in getting a quick appointment at the DeKalb Medical facility most convenient for them.
“I like to come to work to have fun,” says Dr. Heigerick. “I like to talk to people, to learn things.” A fundamentalist Christian who reads the Bible and attends church conferences, Dr. Heigerick loves to meet people and develop long-term relationships. Many of his patients have been with him for many years. One even remembers his first office from 1983. He sees children of patients he saw as children. "They’re friends,” he says. “If I know them well enough, we talk about their families. If I know them really well, I’ll include them in a joke to play on my staff members.”
Dr. Heigerick offers weight management and obesity programs for patients. Promoting the “e” word, Dr. Heigerick says exercising is an anti-depressant that decreases the rates of many types of cancers, is great for keeping blood sugar in check, and “you get all types of nice endorphins.” During the seven years he has run triathlons, he learned a lot about himself and about human behavior. Whether you begin walking, running, riding a bike, or anything else, he suggests choosing the days you are going to exercise, and start by telling yourself, “I don’t have to go exercise; all I have to do is go out my front door and to my neighbor’s driveway, and then I can come back.” It takes the pressure off, and takes the dread out of doing something you don’t want to do. If you go that far, he says that 99% of the time you’ll keep going. The problem is not exercising; the problem is getting off the couch. He adds that you have to find something that’s fun, something you like. He decided triathlons were no longer fun, and is now pursuing Pickleball, a tennis-like game that is rapidly gaining in popularity around the country. It is played with a wiffle ball and paddle, and the court is about one-fourth the size of a tennis court. “So if your joints are bad, you can still play!” Dr. Heigerick says. He feels growing old is an illusion.
Because of the friendships he has made with his patients through the years, Dr. Heigerick says he doesn’t know if he’ll ever 100% retire, but he may sleep later. “There is a lot of socialization, a lot of talking. We do medicine on the side somewhat, but we do a lot of talking,” he says of his practice. “It’s about making relationships and having a good time while you see people. I would hate to come and just diagnose and hand out pills.”
More information at www.beaverruinprimarycare.com.