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New OB/GYN Sets Up Shop At Person Hospital

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PERSON COUNTY, N.C. — Last August, Person Memorial Hospital's only obstetrician/gynecologist left town. That left a baby delivery void in Person County. Even for some prenatal care, Tenika Newman had to drive 30 minutes or more.

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

Finally, relief came in early February, when Dr. Henry Lewis arrived at Person Memorial. He brought Newman's daughter Q'noreah into the world. The scheduled caesarean was performed just a few minutes from Newman's home in Roxboro -- 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," she said.

Lewis came from another underserved area in Hertford County. But with four OB/GYN's in Ahoskie, he went where he was needed most.

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

His schedule isn't as flexible as it could be in a big city practice, and his patients don't always have insurance. But that's okay with Lewis.

"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.

Lewis is now available whenever Newman and other expectant mothers need him.

"Us old timers don't know any other way," he said.

Fifty-eight of North Carolina's counties don't 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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