No one wants to be sick. Illness can rob us of everyday joy and precious time with our loved ones. Couple pain and suffering with the inevitability of mortality and the future may look pretty grim. But Peachtree City Internal Medicine physician Dr. Byron Harper III claims it does not have to be so. If we make the right choices now - to better our lives - we probably won’t have to face the foe of poor health in the future. The doctor’s philosophy is preventive medicine but his practice goes beyond the science - it rests on relationship building, communication, and education between doctor and patient, with the ultimate goal of healthy and happy living.
Harper III is a second-generation, people-loving person. His father was a Georgia physician who was directed by steadfast faith and belief in helping the sick and the underprivileged. Harper II was also the founding father of The Children’s Village at Christian City, a nonprofit that provides shelter, hope and healing for children in need. “I saw relationships that my father had with his patients and I wanted those,” shares Dr. Harper III. In 1998, when he was just 12 years old, the Harper family moved to Fayetteville. Harper reminisces that his mom (now 94) was his dad’s most ardent cheerleader. Rose Marie Harper was Fayette County’s first female commissioner advocating for better living conditions for her local community. With his mom’s “bulldog” attitude and his dad’s unwavering commitment to treating and healing the sick, a natural career path was paved for young Byron. He felt called to be either a preacher or a physician just because of his deep love and understanding for people.
In 1983, Byron Harper III graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. After a short partnership stint with his dad, the young doctor set up his practice in Peachtree City, and has been treating and healing patients here for the last 30 years. Visits come with a range of ailments - from the common cold to diabetes, heart issues and nutrition challenges. Through the MD/VIP-affiliated model, Dr. Harper offers a personalized health care plan that focuses on wellness, prevention, and primary care in a compassionate and relaxed environment. For his patients, the doctor customizes a regimen of education, nutrition, and wellness that not only includes treatment and therapy but also prioritizes prevention. Services include comprehensive, advanced health screenings and diagnostic tests. On a typical day at the office, the good doctor sees about ten patients a day, giving each individual a full 30-minute visit. In addition, Dr. Harper allows for same-day appointments and telehealth consultations. House visits and after-hour phone calls are also part of “being there for the patient.”
Fifteen years ago, a missionary trip to Honduras added to the physician’s life. He and the visiting medical team tended to the needs of 200 patients a day who had walked for hours just to seek medical care. After the visits, the missionaries would then pray with their patients. That simple gesture of connecting touched Harper. Upon returning home, he too decided that he would offer to pray with his patients, upon their consent, after their healthcare visits were over. Harper admits that he can show people love in his medical office just as much as he would have loved preaching from a pulpit, and take care of the people the way his dad did. His medical practice thus takes on a spiritual aspect that can deepen the bond between doctor and patient.
Like his mother was to his father, Byron Harper’s wife Terri of 31 years is her husband’s biggest cheerleader. She is an integral part of the medical practice helping to facilitate its smooth operation. Between the two of them, and their five children, and office staff, they share a strong faith and love for people. The two of them are founding members of One Church (formerly Heritage Church) for the last 18 years. Dr. Harper has also held the title of Medical Director for Southwest Christian Hospice for the last 35 years. His work continues to be pro bono. In Peachtree City, the practitioner continues to root for fellow residents by leading community talks on heart disease and diabetes prevention and the importance of vitamins.
During the pandemic, Dr. Harper III was one of the first physicians in Peachtree City to make the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to the local residents. Daughter Marisa spent countless hours on the phone communicating with the CDC to gain access to vaccines for Peachtree City residents. The staff even created a curtain in the foyer area to see patients, while maintaining their confidentiality and dignity. So far, Harper’s medical practice has administered 600 doses of the shot. Harper stresses, “The vaccine is important to take because COVID-19 is not going to go away anytime soon.”
As much as he tries to teach his patients to honor their health and their lives, Dr. Byron Harper’s patients in turn teach the good doctor about life. “My patients remind me that everyone is special and valuable despite our differences. My mantra is to preach my philosophy and practice of medicine so that everyone has a chance to reach their dreams without their health getting in the way. “Being healthy doesn’t have to be boring. There is nothing that should hold us back. I plan to be around for another 20 years for my patients.”
Dr, Byron Harper III’s office is located at 106 Governors Square, Suite B, Peachtree City, GA 30269. 770-892-1777. www.mdvip.com/doctors/byronharpermd.