Leader Spotlight: Joel Rosenstock, MD, Medical Director, Atlanta

Robert Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’” Words to live by, especially for healthcare innovator Joel Rosenstock, AbsoluteCare Atlanta’s Medical Director. Under his direction, the facility became an HIV Center of Excellence shortly after opening in 2000. They achieved a 97 percent undetectable rate and an 88 percent retention rate.

Dr. Rosenstock—J.R.—grew up on Long Island the middle son of Jewish parents. He had a natural interest in biology, which became his major at Cornell—and “somebody had to be the doctor!” Joel quickly realized he “wanted to see people get better and be in good health.”

Before joining AbsoluteCare, he spent 14 years building his successful infectious disease practice at Piedmont Hospital and spent four years as president of the Infectious Society of Georgia. But his career started in the U.S. Navy as an infection disease fellow. “My Navy days taught me to overcome obstacles, no matter how large, and gave me the ability to accommodate and work things out with others using communication skills.”

As Medical Director, Dr. Rosenstock oversees 15 providers who are responsible for excellent care delivery, quality management, compliance with protocols, and devising new strategies for effective care. He is a large supporter of AbsoluteCare’s transgender care initiative, where he follows harm-reduction strategies—such as STI education, safe hormone replacement therapy, and drug harm reduction—for 500 individuals. Staff education has included sessions about “proper naming of staff and members,” and he supported the initiative to be certified by the Health Equality Index (HEI) by 2020.

As a leader, J.R. is a member of his team. “I try to be a quiet leader, modeling proper behavior and activity.” Up until a few years ago, he saw at least as many members as his busiest provider, which allowed him to share the difficulties in day-to-day challenges with scheduling, no-shows, administration SNAFUs, and EMR issues. “Staff knew I was one of them.”

If you ask J.R. what the practice of medicine needs most, he’d say, “the adoption of healthcare as a right, not a privilege, with universal healthcare for all.” His dream would be to “eliminate the fragmentation of healthcare, and institute a simpler and more rational approach for patients and providers.”

J.R. has been married for 32 years and has two sons and four grandsons. He credits his love of golf with contributing to his attention to detail, planning, and execution. And honing those qualities at work makes him a better golfer, too.