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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: We need doctors who reflect the community

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: We need doctors who reflect the community

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We need doctors who reflect the community

To the editor:

Sometime in the late 1930s to early 1940s, Dr. James Baldwin built St. Mary’s hospital on Fayette Street, known to locals as “The Block.”

At that time the country was segregated, so he built the hospital for Blacks. St. Mary’s served people of color for some time past World War II. After WWII, Community Hospital was built to replace St. Mary’s. That hospital had three black doctors, Dr. Williams, Dr. Price and Dr. Matthews. All three of these doctors delivered babies.

After the war, we had two hospitals in Martinsville. Many of the patients at Community Hospital did not have insurance. I know because I ran the medical lab. The doctors there still encouraged patients to come there for treatment and to deliver their babies.

In 1968 Medicare stated that the federal government would fund one hospital in Martinsville. The two hospitals (Community Hospital and Martinsville General Hospital) merged and took on a new name, Memorial Hospital.

Memorial Hospital served the community and delivered babies until it was sold in 2001 for around $125 million. Today, LifePoint Health is the owner of Sovah-Martinsville.

I am hearing in the community that LifePoint would like to close the labor and delivery section of the hospital. How can this possibly be a benefit to our community? Will women of Martinsville and Henry County be required to travel extended distances for doctor’s appointments and deliveries?

Why would such a decision even be considered with the demographics of Henry County and the fact that LifePoint has an extremely competent, Harvard- and Yale-trained OB-GYN, Dr. Makunda Abdul-Mbacke, on staff.

According to some individuals who saw a memo that circulated around the hospital, Dr. Abdul-Mbacke is no longer welcome to practice at LifePoint.

I certainly hope this is not true. I believe that Martinsville and Henry County need competent, compassionate, well-trained medical staff who are representative of the demographic of our population.

And I think it is safe to say that decisions should be made that are in the best interests of our residents. We need local labor and delivery, and we need Dr. Abdul-Mbacke’s expertise.



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