After serving in World War I, William H. Lawrence, MD, and Maynard G. Bensley, MD, returned home to the United States to resume the practice of medicine in an era that benefited from significant technologic and medical advances.
Although group medical practices existed in various forms since the late 1800s and grew rapidly throughout the Mid-, far, and Southwest regions of the country, they were rare in the Eastern United States. The increasing scarcity of traditional family doctors that made house calls, advances in diagnosing and treating acute illness, and the emergence of novel drugs and technologies prompted the need for experts in an increasing variety of medical specialties. It was against this backdrop that Lawrence and Bensley founded the Diagnostic Group of Summit in October 1929.
Lawrence and Bensley organized their practice “…for the dual purpose of efficient care of the ambulatory sick and direct saving of finance.” As pioneers in the group practice movement, the physicians realized that assembling doctors from different disciplines together with pertinent diagnostic services would be an efficient way to provide comprehensive care to a community, cultivate long-term patient relationships, and position medical professionals to provide optimal care for their patients.
To launch their practice, Drs. Lawrence and Bensley purchased a building in 1929 at 129 Summit Avenue. Between 1929 and 1940, the building was expanded to accommodate their ever growing practice. In 1950, an additional building was constructed at 120 Summit Avenue.
Committed to fostering a close association between physicians, staff, and patients during the Group’s early years, Drs. Lawrence and Bensley promoted an unconventional approach to medical practice that encouraged harmony and teamwork through the open discussion of ideas and opinions. The doctors’ vision was to develop a practice "with a soul—one that would present a kindly haven where patients can be relieved of worries in an atmosphere as near that as made the old family doctor so beloved.”
Eighty-years later and after changes in the Group’s name, locations, and with an ever-expanding number of physicians, staff, and services, the original vision for Summit Medical Group has remained the cornerstone of its success. Its original model of care was extraordinary and it has proven to be an enduring, efficient, and ideal approach for delivering state-of-the-art, compassionate, and convenient care to patients throughout the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area.
Proud to carry out Dr. Lawrence’s and Dr. Bensley’s vision for health care, Summit Medical Group now has more than 150 board-certified physicians in more than 60 medical specialties, most of which are located at the Berkeley Heights Campus. A premier multispecialty group providing exceptional comprehensive primary and specialty care for patients in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, SMG has treated more than a half million patients.