Dr. Clinton Potter, a Naples physician who dedicated his career and free time to people who needed an advocate, especially the LGBTQ community, died Aug. 18 from complications of COVID-19.
He was 61.
Known for his passion that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect, Potter practiced family medicine in California for 20 years before returning to Florida —he was born in Miami — and settling in Naples.
In 2016, he opened his practice, Advanced Individualized Medicine of Naples, located at 720 Goodlette-Frank Road.
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The practice is a combination of concierge medicine and alternative medicine where Potter tailored treatment plans based on each patient’s needs, said Lori-Ann Martell, his practice administrator.
Potter was the only openly gay physician in Naples when he opened his practice, and since then he has been instrumental in serving the medical needs of the LGBTQ community, Martell said.
He was a member of the board that founded the Naples Pride organization in 2017 and helped plan the first Pride Festival, said Michelle Hudson, also a co-founder of Naples Pride.
Potter was the type of person that when you met him, he was a friend and he was genuine about wanting to help the LGBTQ community have equality in medical care and in their lives, Hudson said.
He contributed articles about medical care for the LGBTQ community to her publication, Rainbow Pages, and he was open about being gay so his patients would feel more open and comfortable talking about their medical needs, Hudson said.
He lived in San Francisco in the 1980s and was active in the HIV/AIDS movement to help gay men with the disease get medical care after being shunned elsewhere, Hudson said.
“He said it was a difficult time,” Hudson said.
“He loved his staff. He loved his patients.”
Potter leaves behind half a dozen loyal employees at his practice and about 2,000 patients.
“It’s just a huge loss,” Martell said. “We have moments we cry and moments we can remember (him) and laugh, and moments when we expect him to come through the door.”
A small sign that Potter kept in his Jeep summed up how he lived his life.
“The sign said, ‘Be kind for no good reason,’” Martell said. “He loved his staff. He loved his patients.”
The hope is to keep his medical practice alive with his nurse practitioner, Yvette Planes, at the helm with a consulting physician, Martell said.
“He was super intelligent,” Martell said. “He listened to all his patients and would find treatments that they needed.”
Potter faced his own health challenges, most recently battling throat cancer for the past two years. He had to have part of his palate removed and lost his ability to speak or swallow, Martell said. He learned to speak and swallow again.
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“He was a fighter,” she said.
He had only returned to the practice about six weeks ago and despite being fully vaccinated he contracted COVID-19, likely because the cancer treatment had weakened his immune system, Martell said.
He was admitted to Physicians Regional Medical Center on Collier Boulevard on Aug. 14 where he spent several days in the intensive care unit. He died at the hospital, according to a news release.
Potter remembered for humanitarianism
He moved to Naples in 2010 after a time in Ocala where he cared for his ailing parents.
He volunteered at the privately run Neighborhood Health Clinic and filled in at Advance Medical Center, a family medicine practice in the building where he would later open his own practice.
Neighborhood Health founder Nancy Lascheid said Potter was a volunteer for many years until 2017.
“He was very knowledgeable and even took on the responsibility to draft our first (medications’ list) for our medical committee,” Lascheid said. “He will be missed.”
After recent hurricanes when Neighborhood Clinic, which fronts Goodlette-Frank, faced damage, Lascheid said Potter called to check in and said he was “just up the street.”
“We never had to call him, but it was a great comfort,” Lascheid said.
Nina Gray, a former volunteer and chief executive officer of Neighborhood Clinic, remembers how a friend at the clinic said Potter would be a great volunteer physician.
“He was a tremendous humanitarian,” Gray said. “He cared about his patients right up to his last breath. What a loss.”
April Donahue, executive director of the Collier County Medical Society, said in a statement, “Dr. Potter was an active member of the medical society since 2016, including volunteering as a speaker at our annual women’s health forum. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues, his patients, and the community.”
Born in Miami, Potter moved to Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in psychobiology in 1982, according to his physician profile with the state Department of Health.
He earned his medical degree in 1987 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, state records show.
After medical school, he moved back to California where he practiced family medicine for nearly 20 years.
He was an attending physician in emergency medicine at several hospitals that included St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco, University of California, and Stanford Medical Center, according to a news release.
While living in California, one of his great passions was serving as medical director of Camp Hakuna Matata, a summer camp for children and their families affected by HIV/AIDS, according to the news release.
A memorial has been planned for Thursday, Aug. 26, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at his practice for his patients. Masks are required. A celebration of his life for family, friends and colleagues is still being planned.