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Payback leads to career

How did you get involved with Rural Health Medicine Programs?

Years ago when I was undergoing my medical training, I received a National Health Service Corps Scholarship, and part of that scholarship requirement was to give back some years of service to a health manpower shortage community. At that time Selma was my home so I chose Uniontown to come and do my payback time. I owed just a couple of years of service for the requirement to payback my scholarship, but after coming to the community and falling in love with a lot of my patients and seeing there was a need I decided to stay and that was nearly 25 years ago. I had a three-year obligation and it has turned into a 25-year career.

Do you have any regrets about staying with the organization as opposed to going into private practice?

I don&8217;t. I have no regrets at all. It has been a very positive experience.

Was your payback time with Rural Health Medical Programs?

I started with Rural Health. I was the first full-time physician that the program had. We had a center in Uniontown and another in Wilcox County, and I spent four days a week in Uniontown and one day a week at the center in Wilcox County. We have grown now to six centers scattered throughout the Black Belt. We have grown quite a bit.

How is the organization funded?

We receive some federal funds to enable us to offer our services at a more economical level than say someone in private practice could. We try to offer a higher quality of care but with the federal money keep it at a lower economical level.

How do you decide the discount for patients?

The patients have to bring in proof of what their income level is, and we use what you call a sliding fee scale. There is a chart that will tell us where a patient falls on that pay scale, whether they are entitled to a full or partial discount, but it has to do with the federal poverty level.

What kind of services do you provide at the centers?

Complete primary healthcare and even provide dental services, especially the center in Uniontown. We do everything from infants, checkups and immunizations, to geriatric care, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, thyroid disorders, obesity, we end to cover everything. Most of our providers are board certified family practitioners, which means we have been trained to take care of the family.

What are some of the goals of the program in the future?

We would simply like to be more accessible to more people who need our services. In the Black Belt there is such a high prevalence rate of things like hyper tension and diabetes, and it is our goal to help as many of those individuals as we can and, to not cure them because there is no cure, but teach them lifestyle modifications and changes to get there problem in control.