BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It may be the one doctor's office where patients don't mind a wait, but The Healthcare Gallery is not a doctor's office per se.
"We started off with a footprint of an art gallery, and figured out a way to see patients in it," co-founder Leone Elliott, Jr., M.D. said.
Elliott combined two passions to create a contemporary art gallery open to the public, where the doctor is always in.
"It's changing the way (patients) look at their health, and we think if we are able to get patients to look at their health differently, it will improve outcomes," he said.
A native of Sierra Leone, Elliott grew up hearing the wails of mourners at a cemetery near his house.
"It's one of those things as a 6-year-old that actually leaves an imprint on you, and I remember asking those questions, 'Why do people die? What happens? Why are they in that coffin?,'" he recalled.
Elliott believes that experience helped shape his desire to help people live. A love for architecture and design developed years later in prep school, and he came full circle during medical school in the United States.
After several years of managing urgent care clinics, Elliot decided to blur the lines of the physical doctor's office as we know it. Behind his gallery walls are spaces that offer a wide range of treatments. He started by offering primary care and minor cosmetic procedures, and the vision has evolved to total
body wellness. It's a one-stop shop where patients are eager to engage.
"We added on physical therapy, which patients have loved," he said. "We added massage therapy, and we're bringing on a psychotherapist, a licensed clinical social worker who actually does therapy with horses."
The gallery also employs curator and art manager Rodneyna Hart.
"People come here just to hang out, just to look at the art," she explained. "It's not just a utilitarian function. it is really an aesthetic, an experience, and that's really what we were going for."
Rotating exhibitions feature local artists, and money from the sale of their work goes back into their pockets.
"Not everyone loves every piece, but overall we've gotten such an amazing response. It's about making people feel comfortable in this space, but don't be afraid to challenge a little bit of what comfort can be," Hart said.
Elliott said patients do seem more comfortable and genuinely excited to talk about their health.
"There's a big push to get people to do more preventive things so that we're not treating the disease at it happens," he explained. "These patients are now starting to realize the need to collaborate with a provider. It's worked. It's actually worked."
He now hopes to expand the concept, both personally and through colleagues with a similar vision.
A reception will be held Friday, November 13 for the latest exhibition called "This Mortis: A Photographic Exploration of Death and Mourning." It's free and open to the public. The Healthcare Gallery is located at 3488 Brentwood Dr. in Baton Rouge.