Sunday, March 7th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Dr. James Donecker brings his passion for community healthcare to practice's new location

by Rob Lauer

James Donecker, MD

James Donecker, MD

Ask James Donecker, MD, why he chose a career in medicine, and the passion in his voice is immediately evident. Within moments it becomes clear that being a doctor is not merely a career but a calling with far-reaching implications.

"I am very passionate about family medicine and community medicine," Dr. Donecker explains.  "They can be avenues to advocating for social injustices. That's what brought me into medicine in the first place: the desire to serve in and advocate for the community in which I live."

Growing up in North Carolina, James Donecker first came to Virginia while in high school. He then attended the College of William and Mary. After medical school, he joined the navy.

"When I got out of the Navy, I started my residency at Eastern Virginia Medical College and at Family Medicine Healthcare," he recalls. "I worked as a physician in the Marine Corp and at the Naval Medical Center. In 2015, I moved to Portsmouth. I really like the city, especially its small-town feel. I think it's a great place to live and raise my young daughter. I'm very excited to be a part of the community here, and I want to help it address the challenges we face."

Among the challenges facing every community nationwide are concerns about the healthcare system and how best to promote healthy lifestyles for all Americans. Dr. Donecker sees family medicine and community medicine as key in addressing these issues.

"I define family medicine as cradle-to-grave medical treatment for the entire family," he says. "The community medicine side involves civic participation. It includes being engaged with local non-profit organizations that serve the community, advocating for things that bring greater health and speaking out against those things that cause poor health."

With his passion for family medicine and community medicine, Dr. Donecker is very excited to have recently joined the dedicated team of Family Medicine Healthcare.

Founded in 2004 by Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, Family Medicine Healthcare has provided both personal and preventative care to patients. As the practice's primary physician, Dr. Abdelshaheed is committed to building lifelong relationships with his patients by listening, educating, and responding to their ongoing health and wellness needs. His philosophy has become the practice's mission statement: "We are dedicated to you living well, not just getting well."

"I can't say enough about Dr. and Mrs. Abdelshaheed," Dr. Donecker exclaims. "I am so impressed with them, not only with how they've grown their practice but also their commitment to providing the best possible care for their patients. Their style is unique. The care they offer extends beyond what they do in their office: it includes personal care for patients when they are hospitalized."

The challenges to the American healthcare system posed by COVID-19 are not only in current news headlines: they are top of mind for Dr. Donecker and healthcare professionals worldwide.
"This pandemic really challenges the fabric of our communities- how we can be engaged and support one another," Dr. Donecker notes. "We've really had to pivot to meet the challenges of social distancing. Being engaged involves serving others, finding groups to work with. Investing in the community, leads to a better future for our children.

"I think the COVID-19 virus has further revealed the disparities that still exist in our healthcare system. The virus has greatly influenced communities of color and laid bare the underlying health issues in those communities- diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. It has also revealed the challenges that our healthcare system faces.  So much of our system has been designed to pay for treatments after a person becomes sick. As a society, we need greater investment in preventative medicine.  As a country, some of our soul searching needs to focus on how we can improve the health of the entire nation. In dealing with high drug costs and insurance, we also need to look at improving social services, making our communities safer, and making sure people have access to mental health counseling. Even things like access to transportation and grocery stores affect community health. A lot of families living in areas that are not close to a grocery store end up having to buy food from convenience stores. We need to work at tailoring the healthcare system to meet the challenges of chronic diseases and health disparities."

"We focus on wellness
and treating the whole patient,
not just the disease."
- Dr. James Donecker

James Donecker, MD

James Donecker, MD

"This work isn't just for medical professionals," Dr. Donecker asserts. "Each and every one of us can be involved. There are a lot of great non-profit organizations that are working to deal with needs that have gone unaddressed. Some groups help with senior services. A lot of faith communities do outreach and sponsor programs such as food drives. We should always examine and reevaluate the conditions in a community that contribute to poor health. We can all exercise our right to vote. Of course, I think an investment in education will always ensure a better outcome for our children."

"Our healthcare system is very complex, but there's much that can be refocused. Instead of being driven by treating sickness, how can we structure the system to focus on the community maintaining health and wellness? What strategies can we develop to address the challenges faced by those living with chronic diseases and health disparities?"

Dr. Donecker's passion and drive in asking these questions resonate with Family Medicine Healthcare's commitment to people living well and not just getting well.

"I am extremely excited to be with Family Medicine Healthcare, and build long term relationships with patients of all ages," he concludes. "As family doctors, we offer an entire patient-centered experience, caring for patients of all ages- from small children to folks in their 90s. We focus on wellness and treating the whole patient, not just the disease. Of course, we are very excited about our new building on High Street, right on the border of Portsmouth and Chesapeake. It allows us to serve even more people. Family Medicine Healthcare offers a welcoming environment in which I see myself practicing for years to come."

James Donecker, MD with a previous Shopper story displayed in their office

James Donecker, MD with a previous Shopper story displayed in their office

Family Medicine Healthcare

6111 Portsmouth Blvd.
Portsmouth, VA 23701