When Dr. Michael Pike moved to Cary in 1979, the population was about 19,000, and there were still barns on Kildaire Farm Road.
It was just the kind of small town he wanted for his young family.
Pike, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., and trained as a gastroenterologist in Manhattan, was ready for a change from the big city.
“New York was too busy for what I wanted,” he said.
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He joined a group of physicians in Cary and began building his patient list.
“There was no GI in Cary at that time,” said Kay Sweetingham, a marketing consultant. “He immediately could see patients, being the only one in town. Other physicians who had been treating patients with GI problems had someone to refer them to who was local. Early on, he had to do all his procedures at the old Rex Hospital.”
In 1986, Pike founded Cary Gastroenterology Associates, the town’s first GI practice. Dr. Michael DeLissio joined Pike, and the two began with a staff of four. The practice was also the first to open a separate women’s center.
This year, Cary Gastroenterology Associates is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
“We have been so pleased to grow from our small start to a thriving practice of seven physicians and a staff of over 30,” said Dr. Stephen Furs, managing partner. “Providing high quality digestive care and jobs for the community remains the mission of our practice.”
Pike, who retired in 2014, recalls the pressure of the early days when the doctors had to perform all their procedures at a hospital.
“We were going to four different hospitals,” he said. “With consults and patients from Cary, we were pretty busy.”
The opening of Wake Med Cary and the ability to perform outpatient procedures at their office helped to streamline patient care.
“The emergence of outpatient endoscopy units allows us to see our patients in a less expensive way than seeing them at a hospital,” Pike said.
“Wake Med Cary provided us a place where we could see patients quicker,” Pike said. “I live pretty close, and when I was on call, it made it nice. I could provide quicker service.”
Pike says he is happy with the decision he and his wife made to leave the big city for a slower pace of life.
And although Cary’s population is eight times bigger than it was when Pike came looking for an idyllic small town, he keeps things in perspective.
“It’s still not like New York City,” he said. “It’s great that when we go downtown or to (the Durham Performing Arts Center), it’s only 15 to 20 minutes until we are home.
“But I’d still like to see the construction finished on (Interstate) 40.”
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About Cary Gastroenterology Associates
Location: 1000 Crescent Green Drive, Suite 102, Cary