After serving in World War I, William H. Lawrence, MD, and Maynard G. Bensley, MD, returned home to the United States to practice medicine in an era with 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 who 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 combining doctors from different specialties with the latest diagnostic options 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, expanding locations, and with continually growing clinical and nonclinical staff and services, the original vision for Summit Medical Group has remained the cornerstone of its success. Its extraordinary original model of care has proven to be enduring, efficient, and ideal 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 350 board-certified practitioners in more than 74 medical specialties, which are located in Essex, Hudson, Morris, Somerset, and Union counties. 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.