Going to the doctor's office is practically a uniform experience. I wouldn't be surprised if 90% of them ordered their carpets, chairs, and decorations from the same catalogue, honestly. Everything about them is often familiar and expected, mundane, pleasant but simple... it's just the way it is. But it doesn't have to be that way and for one doctor's family practice it definitely isn't.
Powers Family Medicine in Farmington Hills, MI has changed the game entirely when it comes to the experience of family health care and while it's incredible and fascinating, the path there has been bumpy, to say the least. Their journey to success included aching heartbreak and trauma, but it's paved the way for a new kind of healing experience that needs to be discussed!
Dr. William Powers, posing here with Hyperion, one of the resident therapy cats, said that he talked to friends and family about his plans ahead of time, and they didn't respond with enthusiasm. He told Bored Panda:
I told some colleagues that I planned to launch a family practice that would have therapy cats and video game decorations and they told me I was insane and that it would be a complete failure as people want to go to a sterile, simple, professional-looking place for medical care.
However, Dr. Powers had been through a lot and had BIG reasons for wanting to do things "differently." He elaborated on the path to wellness:
Back in 2017, two of the cats I had raised from kittens had become Guinness World Record Title holders. Arcturus Aldebaran Powers was the tallest cat to ever live and Cygnus Regulus Powers had the longest tail on a cat ever (All my cats are named for stars). I had designed a diet for them that I thought was what would be ideal for a feline species. It was highly synthetic and by no means natural, but I’m all about science and evidence-based things, and I’m fairly sure it turned them both into giants.
Life was pretty great, and we were booking TV shows and charity events, as I was president of the Ferndale Cat Shelter at the time, and the cats’ fame helped us raise money to help Detroit rescue and street cats.
Then tragedy struck:
On Nov 12th 2017, my wife (who is also a doctor) left in the morning to go round in the hospital. I woke up about an hour later to smoke alarms and my living room ablaze. I searched for the cats and opened as many escape paths as possible until I finally passed out from smoke. Ultimately, I made it to the basement where I was rescued by first responders. The house burned to the foundation, and we lost everything, including our beloved cats Arcturus, Sirius and Cygnus.
The tragedy completely devastated me, and it took me over a year to recover mentally and physically from it. When I was cleared to go back to work, I decided I didn’t want to live my life how I did previously. I spent my 20s studying and training to be a doctor, and it was almost all for nothing. I decided that being happy and enjoying my life was worth far more, and so I decided to start my own family practice clinic, Powers Family Medicine.
So, when people told Dr. Powers he would fail, what did he do? He said:
I decided to proceed anyway, and rented a small office space near the ruins of my old home (which is currently being rebuilt). We have been wildly successful, and are currently the #1 patient-rated family practice in our state.
If you're wondering about how having cats in a doctor's office isn't problematic, fret not. Dr. Powers explains:
The therapy cats are all exotic hybrids (early generation Bengals and Savannah cats) who lack the Fel D1 gene in their saliva, and so people with severe cat allergies are unaffected by them.
We recently had a patient who is so allergic to cats that she carries an epi-pen for it come to the office. She got to pet Polaris, and broke down into tears because she loves cats but wasn’t able to pet one for almost 30 years.
"We have special prism film on the windows which produces rainbows when it’s sunny out."
Dr. Powers also said:
The cats aren’t allowed in sterile zones, but otherwise, have free reign of the office. (They are fully vaccinated and free of zoonotic infections, and so honestly the doorknob to the office is more of a risk to you than they are)
Our clinic is special in that it welcomes truly everyone.
We are friendly and cater to the LGBT population, and also have a lot of alt/kink/BDSM, commercial sex workers, polyamorous patients, HIV+ patients (which I treat and prescribe PrEP) and other people who feel like they can’t be open and honest with their doctor.
At our clinic, you check in using your initials only. You are then assigned an Amiibo (the name is printed on the bottom if you don’t know the character). Then, when it’s your turn to be called back, my MA will say “Pikachu!” and you come back to the exam room. This way, no matter who is in the lobby at the same time as you, your privacy is maximally preserved.
Panoramic view of the lobby, we have a big screen TV out there which streams multiple streaming services and also has a SNES Classic. On this day someone had queued up Sword Art Online from Crunchyroll
We also have some middle-class families in the mix too, all are welcome and treated with respect! In short, we don’t care what anyone else thinks, just tell us the truth and we will help keep you safe and healthy.
Dr. Powers admits he is surprised by how quickly his practice became a booming success, telling Bored Panda:
I expected it would take years for me to develop the practice, as 5-7 years is pretty normal. We’ve now been open for 6 months, and as of today, we are completely full. We have over 1000 patients in the practice, and we’ve established a waiting list for people to get on if they want to transfer their care to us. I’m looking into expansion options and hiring some help so that we can continue to accept new patients, but for now, that has to wait.
Among the other unique properties of the office, every exam room has an SNES for patients to keep busy while they wait.
And the cats are far from overworked, different cats "work" on different days and have safe places to escape to for rest and recharging! Dr. Powers says:
Sometimes the therapy cats have received sufficient pets for the day, and need to take a break to their heated bed.
Powers Family Medicine doesn't spend any money on advertising, but because they became so popular so quickly, Dr. Powers decided to give back to his patients. Every time someone refers a new patient and that patient establishes care, their name goes into the question mark box. During the month, they draw names to give away prizes like a Nintendo Switch or 3dsXL.
Plus, check this out:
We have a community board where patients or their families can post up whatever they like. Polaroids of the art chalkboard from every month also get posted here.
I’m really into bitcoin and have been for a very long time, so we accept it at our clinic!
We have a chalkboard where patients can draw whatever they like. It gets erased on the 1st of every month.
The lobby and every exam room have multi-chargers in place for your convenience.
The Guinness world record certificates for his late cats, Arcturus Aldebaran Powers and Cygnus Regulus Powers, adorn a wall in the office.
As patients enter their exam rooms, there's a high probability a lounging feline awaits them.
The practice is full of quirky, unique details. For example, above the scale at the weigh-in station, this Anatomy of Mario is on the wall.
Another quirky detail?
The back wall has x-rays of the various consoles and gaming controllers.
Dr. Powers said:
Myself, my MA, and whatever resident/med student I have rotating with me for the day all use Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptops with full chroma keyboards as our work laptops.
Even the details in exam rooms are unique. Take Exam Room 2 for example.
Underneath the Legend of Zelda shadowbox art, canisters that hold tongue depressors and q-tips are decorate with familiar gamer icons and other pieces of decor can be seen, like the skeleton hand with an SNES controller.
Phoenix works Monday and Thursday, Hyperion Tuesday, and Polaris Wednesday. On Fridays, both Hyperion and Polaris come.
Sometimes during his lunch breaks, even Dr. Powers plays video games!
In his interview with Bored Panda, Dr. Powers gave a shout-out to his support staff:
My wonderful receptionist Laura and my amazing medical assistant Stacy! I couldn’t have made this place without them.
Currently, Powers Family Medicine is full, but they do have a waiting list:
The list is first come first served, and so as patients move away, we get less busy, or we manage to expand and hire another provider we will pull people off the waiting list.
If you're interested in keeping up with Dr. Powers and his awesome office you can follow his Facebook Page.
We'd love to hear what you think of Dr. Powers and his radical office, let us know in the comments!
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