Capt. Chris Montoya, PA-C
There’s no grand story of heroism behind the Purple Heart former Army Capt. Chris Montoya, PA-C, earned after serving four tours supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, he said.
"There’s no exceptional number of lives we saved,” Montoya said. “It’s more affirmation that the guys I trained knew what they were doing and trusted me as a leader. Having their trust was one of the most humbling feelings I’ve ever felt.”
The retired Army officer began his two-decade career as an Army medic and later as a PA, treating soldiers with significant combat injuries, and Army wives and their children with minor bone fractures. He credits much of what he learned in combat and in Army systems to how he treats patients today.
“We have to make sober, real-time decisions anywhere we are no matter if we’re under the duress of enemy fire or the safeguard of an Army aid station,” he said. “The circumstances command how we take care of patients.”
While still serving actively, he worked part-time in a high-volume emergency medicine clinic treating civilians. He quickly realized that while the delivery of care is unchanging, patient perceptions and acceptance of recommended treatment plans are – obstacles that he seldom encountered in the Army.
“Military patients must see a military provider and typically accept recommendations and follow treatment plans without much question,” he said. “Civilians have more provider options and if they have barriers to care, they don’t see a provider at all. Sometimes you have to ‘sell’ a medical plan to a patient so they understand it and accept it.”
After retiring in 2011, Montoya worked in concierge medicine treating NBA athletes and executives throughout metro San Antonio, Texas. Eventually, a local home health organization started referring patients and he quickly amassed a loyal patient portfolio.
In 2011, he founded the TPC Family Medicine and Urgent Care Clinic in San Antonio and opened a second location in 2012. Additionally, Montoya and staff perform about 2,000 school physicals annually for students throughout the San Antonio region.
The cornerstone of his practice is the “mobile medicine” he brings to patients throughout Southwest Texas. He’s able to conference, counsel and write prescriptions remotely through the Medici App, a mobile application that connects doctors and patients. Telemedicine allows him to take care of patients beyond the boundaries of his normal travel radius, load his schedule with complex patients on-site and use the app for less complicated visits. It’s a form of medicine he’s been practicing since his early days in the Army.
“The concept of telemedicine has been around for decades,” he said. “In the military, we were using it without realizing it. The days of solely relying on patients to visit a clinic are over. You have to meet them where they are, especially for those patients who have social or economic barriers to care.”
This keeps him on the road three to four days a week making house calls to patients who may be aging, disabled or economically-disadvantaged. While he’s able to assess social or logistical barriers to care, most importantly, he’s able to strengthen trust and deepen bonds with patients.
The mobility of medicine propels him to keep traversing every corner of southwest Texas.
“Patients have pictures of me with them on their walls,” he said. “Some of them are living on $500 a month and cooking dinner for me. That is truly humbling, and the most rewarding part of what I do. This is a way to continue serving my community.”