Roxboro Glad To See Doctor's Return To U.S.
Posted June 12, 2003 3:38 a.m. EDT
MORRISVILLE, N.C. — After a month of immigration red tape, a Roxboro doctor from Pakistan is back to work.
Elizabeth Bowes had not seen a doctor for her heart and lung problems since Dr. Shahid Mahmood left to visit his sick father in Pakistan.
"A whole lot of times I was sick, very sick, and I said, 'Well, if I can hold it out and take what he already gave me, he'll be back shortly,'" she said.
In May, U.S. immigration officials say Mahmood failed to notify the
about his trip, a requirement of the Patriot Act and sent him and his family back to Pakistan. Mahmood said he was worried sick about his patients.
"A lot of patients had to go to an emergency room for their care because they couldn't get anyone," Mahmood said.
Roxboro is federally recognized as an area underserved by primary care doctors, which is why Mahmood's office assistant Tracy Wall worked every legal and political channel. She credits the efforts of Sen. Elizabeth Dole's staff for resolving the issue and getting Mahmood back to work.
"It wasn't that we just wanted a visa real fast. This affected 1,000 people," he said.
Mahmood said he felt he may never be allowed to return to his home or his practice.
"It was terrible. I don't think anyone could have an experience worse than that," he said.
Mahmood and his family touched down at RDU Wednesday night. Before their arrival, the family had an added delay in Washington where their flight was delayed three hours.