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Dr. Barry Saltman, a quiet stalwart of the greater Lansing health care community and the co-founder of a busy health clinic serving low-income patients, died Sept. 9. A celebration of “Dr. Barry” and his many accomplishments will be held Monday at MSU’s Kellogg Center.
Farhan Bhatti, CEO of Care Free Medical in Lansing, met Saltman in 2007, while still in medical school.
“He became very close to me, like family,” Bhatti said.
Saltman graduated in 1977 from the MSU College of Medicine and practiced as a physician in Mason for 30 years. In the mid-1990s, he helped start a free medical clinic at the Cristo Rey Community Center.
A quiet retirement was not Saltman’s style. Within weeks of hanging up his stethoscope in private practice, he and his wife, Suzanne, established another clinic for low-income and under-insured patients, Care Free Medical in Lansing.
“He never imagined it would become a full-time thing,” Bhatti said. “He thought maybe he would see patients without insurance half a day a week. It ended up exploding into a full-time clinic, Monday through Friday.”
Under Saltman’s leadership, Bhatti said Care Free has grown “exponentially” in the past 14 years. Saltman remained active at the clinic almost up until his death. Care Free’s medical, dental and optometry offices now employ 32 people and handle about 15,000 office visits a year. The clinic quickly outgrew its first office in Mason, moving first to a larger office in South Lansing and, in April of this year, an even larger facility at 1100 W. Saginaw St. in Lansing.
Saltman was much loved by his patients and fellow health care workers.
“In medical school, I came to the clinic weekly and learned a lot from him,” Bhatti said. “He was very humble, wore a T-shirt and jeans most of the time, and purposely chose that attire because he didn’t want to show up his patients.”
He was unpretentious, funny and always sought to heal by taking into account the whole person, not just the immediate ailment.
Saltman was also good at persuading his colleagues and donors to support his work providing care to indigent or low-income patients.
“He had a huge heart and he was a hero to the underserved,” Bhatti said.
Monday’s celebration of Saltman’s life will feature a slide show, memories and reflections about Saltman, and remarks from local public figures and members of Saltman’s family, Sheri Jones of WLNS-TV will host the event
Celebration of Life for Dr. Barry Saltman
1-3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23
Kellogg Center Big Ten Rooms
219 S. Harrison Rd., East Lansing
RSVP by Friday Sept. 20
To Amber at Memorial@CareFreeMedical.org
(517) 887-5922 ext. 224