To Find Good Doctors, Ask a Good Doctor

That’s right–192 East Chestnut  Ave. in Asheville, is colorful and attractive.  It’s the office of Dr. John Hoskins, my new dentist. I tried 4 before I chose him…He’s young enough, so I know he’ll be with me for a while (I won’t need to break in another,) and he’s old enough to know he doesn’t know everything. 

His office is attractive and well kept, and I like that…a lot. It makes me believe he and his staff are detail-oriented, conscientious, and caring about all aspects.  In my dentists and doctors, I deem those qualities important.

But I didn’t get to him easily. Just like the famous “Three Bears” nursery rhyme, I tried out a number of dentists (4 in all), before him, looking for the perfect fit.

Here’s why choosing was a problem.

I’ve been a half–time-resident of Asheville, NC, for 5 years now (here 5 months of the year, Rhode Island for the other 7), and one of the biggest hurdles for me has been establishing my network of quality health care providers in this region.

If you read my former Biddy Bytes post on dentists, you probably recognize that identifying a dentist would be the last thing I’d do.  After all, my first interaction, as a child, was when I saw my family dentist come at me, wielding a scalpel, bent on cutting my gums.   My father proceeded to hold me down, forcibly, in the dentist’s chair, bear-hugging me from behind, covering my eyes, too, believing I’d cooperate more, if I couldn’t see.

I taught him otherwise, but the experience affected me for a lifetime.

But my resistance changed one Friday night, this past winter, when I bit down on a cherry and hit the pit, fracturing a tooth.  It was 8:45 PM (that’s important, as you’ll see.)

I’d discover that  I couldn’t get a dentist to respond to my call for emergency help. Most of the automated messages said:  “We’re open on Monday through Wednesday, closed Thursday, open Friday til 12:00 noon.” “If you’re a patient of Dr. So-and-so and can’t wait for office hours to resume, leave a message.”

I could find no dentists who worked on weekends.

I was stuck.  I wasn’t anyone’s established patient. I left messages for 8 dentists and only one called me back. I made a mental note that in my next life, I want to come back as a dentist and then hunkered down, waiting for the pain to start.

The following Monday I went to one who fit me in, on emergency basis.  He fixed the tooth ‘temporarily.’ Oh, he was good but still not what I want in my dentist, for  I need to feel a  connection to a professional who wields such power over me.

So, I did what I’ve done on other occasions.  I asked a top doc for his recommendation–my oncologist, Dr. Michael Messino, at Cancer Care, Asheville, NC.  He’d already steered me to my internist, Dr. James Hoer, and I was most satisfied.  Now, I asked him for the name of a good dentist.

He referred me to Dr. John Hoskins, at 192 East Chestnut, off Merrimon Ave., Asheville.

I arrived to a professional building painted cheerfully (these things matter to me,) a well-appointed office, replete with photographs on the wall of the Grand Titans mountain range in Wyoming (which I’d learn my biker/hiker dentist once climbed), and a crack staff led by Melene, office receptionist.  This woman took enough interest in me to come from behind the desk to ask me how I got into blogging (I’d given her my card; I shamelessly do that with all, for I never know if they’ll become a subject on my blog.)

When the dentist finished with the patient before me, he came out to the reception area, too, and we all chatted (OK, they were kidding me about my ‘Boston accent.’)

He’s friendly and respectful, answering my questions about bone loss and how it affects my teeth.

In short, I felt very comfortable….an odd reaction, since going to the dentist is one of my biggest phobias.

So, here’s a nugget to consider for all those who haven’t yet identified your doctors:  If you’re a newcomer wondering to whom you should go, identify one terrific doctor first,  (ask friends/knowledgeable types/ read patient reviews, then check how you feel about him/her, personally).  Then ask who they recommend.

Why?  Good people always know the other good people.

As an interesting aside, when my appointment was done, office receptionist Melene recommended Blue Water Seafood  for lunch, a little place right down the street, next to City Bakery and the Chop Shop, for terrific chowder (or ‘chowdah,’ as I say it) and an amazing grilled salmon BLT sandwich.

I told you:  “The good people always know the other good people.”

(Here are some pictures of Blue Water Seafood where fish is brought in, ‘whole style’ from the coast, and a funky skeletal logo is painted on its glass front window.)

Now, tell us how you find your good doctors….



About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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