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Person County Back In Baby Business

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DURHAM, N.C. — Last August, Person Memorial Hospital's only obstetrician/gynecologist left town, which left a baby delivery void in Person County. But things have now changed for the better.

Even for some pre-natal care, Tenika Newman had to drive 30 minutes or more.

"I would have to go all the way to Durham Regional," she said.

Finally, relief came in early February, when Dr. Henry Lewis arrived at Person Memorial Hospital. He brought Q'noreah into the world. The scheduled C-section was just a few minutes from Newman's home in Roxboro, which was a big improvement over driving to Durham.

"That was a blessing because I was worried about how am I going to get there, because I didn't have a car at the time," he said.

Lewis came from another under-served area in Hertford County, but with 4 obstetrician/gynecologists in Ahoskie, he went where he was needed most.

"The hospital is very supportive. The population needs a doctor. I want to work. It was a perfect fit," he said.

Lewis' schedule is not as flexible as it could be in a big city practice and his patients don't always have insurance, but that's OK with him.

"Well, I think when I finished medical school, it was the expectation that you were the family doctor that you were kind of on-call 24 hours," he said.

Fifty-eight North Carolina's counties do not have adequate access to medical care. Last week, Blue Cross Blue Shield gave $10 million to a program to attract doctors to under-served areas. A similar government program is how Lewis began his career as a rural public health doctor 20 years ago.

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