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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Emily Haly: A breath of fresh air at the Boca Grande Health Clinic

November 10, 2022
By Sheila Evans

With the addition of Dr. Emily Haly, the Boca Grande Health Clinic now has three doctors on staff. Dr. Haly (pronounced hail-ee) brings some 22 years of medical experience to the position. She especially likes dealing with patients on a personal level, while giving professional help. That means she likes to talk with patients, spend time with them, and even run into them at the grocery store or on the walking trail.

“Some doctors resent patients stopping them outside the office to ask medical advice or fill the doctor in on how things are going,” she said. “But I love it. I want to know how they are doing and offer help whenever it works for them.” She is not suggesting this takes the place of regular office appointments, but she believes there is a place for both kinds of communication.

The old-fashioned, small-town approach is exactly what Dr Haly was looking for. 

“I have worked in lots of different types of medical offices, and I don’t care for the big, ‘fast-food’ type of practice,  she said. “That feels like it is more about numbers of patients, rather than taking the time to listen and work together to find solutions to health problems.”

The Boca Grande Health Clinic seems like a dream come true for Dr. Haly. Her grandfather was a doctor who visited people in their homes, gave medical advice to anyone who needed it, and was an active part of his community. Everyone just called him “Doctor,” as if that were his name rather than his profession. It gave him an air of authority, but it also indicated the trust people had in him. He was involved in every aspect of a patient’s life. That is the same type of rapport Emily wants with her patients.

“I am so happy to be here,” she said, referring to both Boca Grande and the Clinic. “Someone needs to pinch me … this is so great.” 

She started work the first of November and began seeing patients immediately. 

“Dr. James, Dr. Kueber and I all have different personalities and backgrounds, but I think we will be a good fit for the people of Boca Grande. It already feels like we make a great team with the rest of the staff at the Clinic.”

Although Dr. Haly has doctors in her family, being one herself was not something she imagined as a youngster. Planning for the future was something she grew into as an adult.

“I was a diver in high school and college – a platform diver,” she noted. She went to a private boarding school for two years to do intensive training. Greg Louganis trained at the same facility. She claimed she was never in his league as a diver.

“He was on the senior team and I was on the junior team,” she noted modestly. She did, however, qualify for Nationals several times, which indicates real talent. 

That was the end of the road for me,”she said, eventually deciding that diving was not where her future lay. 

She majored in business in college at Southern Methodist University and soon got a position in marketing. She was doing well when she moved from Dallas to Atlanta. While in transition she started feeling drawn to the medical field, which her mother had been suggesting for years. She decided to start small, with premed courses, while volunteering at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. 

Unfortunately, no employer was interested in scheduling work around her classes. Then an old marketing client contacted her. He was starting a new business in Atlanta, where Emily was living at the time, and wondered if she could give him some help. They came to an agreement about working around her classes, and the match was made.

Another match was made around this time as well. She had met and fallen in love with Adam Haly. They married, and it was not long before their first baby was on the way. Working, going to medical school and raising a baby was not easy, but it worked for her. After a year as an intern in general surgery, she transitioned to internal medicine and finished that residency while growing their family.

“I had great help from my family and friends during these days,” she said. “And my husband is great!” 

They have four children: Addison, now 24, a recent graduate of Clemson University in South Carolina and now a district sales manager for Argos USA Cement; Emily Catherine, “EC” for short, 21, a senior at Clemson; Coleman, 17, a Junior at Plant High School in Tampa; and Grace, 13, a 7th-grader at Tampa Day School. The last member of the family is Cruz, their four-footed baby, a rescue from St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Over the course of her career, Dr. Haly has worked at a large medical system with an urgent care component; an  occupational health facility and a telemedicine practice. She also worked as a “hospitalist,” which means she worked at a hospital, caring for in-patients. Additionally, she  worked for a “concierge” medical firm, which allows physicians to spend more time with each patient, building a meaningful connection that benefits the patient and fulfills the physician.

The concierge approach allows physicians to focus on preventive care and health literacy, both of which have been proven to improve overall health outcomes, reduce hospital and emergency room visits and avoid unnecessary testing and procedures.

The concierge model was a favorite of Dr. Haly. At Boca Grande Medical Clinic, she feels she can take the best of all these types of medical care and serve patients in a way that is good for them and fulfilling for her.

One of the hospitals Dr. Haly worked for included a week every month working at a sister hospital in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. She said it was an interesting change of venue. On the island there was an overabundance of dogs being born, so an organization called Puppies from Paradise had begun sending selected puppies to the U.S. mainland, where a participating shelter would take the puppies and find them good homes. Dr. Haly became one of the people bringing puppies to the mainland, one on each trip.

“One time I was carrying one of the puppies to the mainland, and the shelter was not able to pick it up until the next morning. I took the puppy home, and my daughter cried for three days after we gave the puppy up the next day. I soon brought home our own puppy, which was Cruz. We named her Cruz since she is a ‘Cruzian,’ which is what they call residents of St. Croix.”

Dr. Haly is originally from Lexington, Kentucky. She lived for many years in Charleston, South Carolina and then Tampa, Florida as part of a major promotion for Adam. The whole family loves water sports and any outdoor activities. They have a boat and do a lot of swimming, wake boarding and water skiing. Even Cruz loves to tube on the boat.

The entire Haly family looks forward to becoming a part of the Boca Grande community. 

“We all feel blessed to be able to call this piece of paradise home,” Emily said. “The children said they will share their mom with you!” 

She said they typically ask their dad (who works in cement) medical questions anyway, because mom usually just tells them, “You’re fine!” 

Emily – Dr. Haly — asks that anyone and everyone, “Please reach out and introduce yourself because we are all new here and want to meet you. Please tell us what you love about Boca Grande so we can explore and enjoy the island as much as you do.”