Dr. Agner receives hospital foundation’s philanthropic award

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 12, 2015

Dr. Christopher Agner, senior shareholder at Rowan Diagnostic Clinic, with his wife, Dianne, by his side, received the Wilson L. Smith Philanthropic Award for 2015 from the Salisbury-Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation Inc.

A physician in Salisbury for 37 years, Agner has served as chief of the medical staff at the hospital, a member of the hospital board, and a member of the hospital foundation board, a fundraising arm of the hospital. He is the son of one of the founders of RDC, Dr. Roy Agner.

In his acceptance, Agner thanked Dianne for her support and spoke with pride of their five children and seven grandchildren. “The hospital foundation is the difference between OK and special,” he said. Patient rooms in the A Tower are better than 90 percent of rooms in other hospitals in the state, he said. He noted the quality of the CT scanner and endoscopic equipment, calling it as good as any place in the country and attributing it to the foundation’s efforts.

Jim Freeman, retired chief executive officer of the hospital, said that the physicians practicing at Rowan Medical Clinic were trailblazers in forming a strong partnership between the hospital and physicians. Agner has continued to push for the hospital-physician partnership to always be better, he said.

“Change requires champions,” he said. “Dr. Agner is always pushing for change for the betterment of patients and the community.” Agner led efforts to eliminate smoking at the hospital, to establish all-private patient rooms with baths, to establish a fully accredited automatic lab that reduced time for lab results, to establish innovative cardiology, to establish the “hospitalist” program, and to establish a second-generation CT scanner and several updates.

Agner also pushed for the creation of the foundation and led efforts to establish Partners in Progress that sets fund-raising standards for the foundation.

“Dr. Agner brings to the table what is right,” Freeman said.

Dr. Larry Gish, who practices at Rowan Diagnostic Clinic, said Agner is straight-forward and approaches problems directly. “At RDC, he realized that Salisbury needed sub-specialists so that people can get the care that they need in Salisbury without leaving town.” Agner works with the RDC partners to grow the medical practice.

RDC is an independent, physician-owned, multi-specialty medical practice with 32 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants on staff. Specialties include endocrinology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, pulmonology and critical care, rheumatology, hospitalist services, IMPACT (Internal Medicine Pre-Anesthesia Care and Treatment) pre-operative services for patients undergoing surgery; and aerospace medicine, including airmen medical examinations for both private and commercial pilots and high altitude testing for altitude sickness.

The practice is also certified by the state to perform Department of Transportation physicals. It maintains the only office-based colonoscopy and upper endoscopy suite in Rowan County, and the suite is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc.