Columns for The Lufkin News

The Grass is Greener in Lufkin!

Posted Apr 09, 2017 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sometimes our medical community gets a bad rap. In any community, there can be a tendency to think the grass is always greener somewhere else. This is true whether we talk about education, retail, quality of life, or in my case, medical care.

I have been accused of being critical of our local healthcare community. Perhaps my commentaries on healthcare in general, and the very real problems we all face, have been taken by some to mean I am not supportive of our local healthcare. Nothing could be further from the truth! 

Those who work with me know that I strive for excellence in all I do, and I expect the same from those who work with me. I have considered it an honor and a privilege to be part of this medical community for almost 25 years now, and had I not found this community to be welcoming, supportive, and high quality, I would not have stayed.

Think about it. We are a town of barely 35,000 people, and we have access to everything from neonatal intensive care to neurosurgery and open heart surgery. (Oh, and excellent cancer treatment as well!) These services are rarely seen in a town our size, and it happened for a number of reasons.

First of all, we are a destination for healthcare for patients coming from many surrounding counties. That give us an effective population of several hundred thousand - enough to support sophisticated specialties. Second, we have had visionary leadership from key physicians over the years. I won't try to mention all who have made a difference - there are many - but I do want to highlight just a few for what I see as having provided a significant and long lasting contribution to local healthcare.

Anyone's list would include Dr. Ravinder Bachireddy, a world-class cardiologist whose incessant focus on quality brought credibility and excellence to local cardiac care at a time when everyone in the state (indeed, the nation and the world) was headed to Houston. Along the same lines, Dr. Bill Shelton and Dr. Kavitha Pinnamaneni, in their respective radiation and medical oncology fields, made it possible for cancer patients to stay at home for outstanding cancer care, unifying many different physicians and surgeons involved in cancer treatment into a nationally accredited cancer program.

Dr. George Fidone's energy, intensity, vision, and incredible skill has brought pediatric care to virtually every child in the area. Our kids are healthier for it. Neurosurgery, neurology and stroke care are as good here as can be found in big cities, thanks not only to local medical leadership but also to philanthropic support. Robotic surgery has been embraced and mastered by our local surgeons and gynecologists to a far greater extent than our neighbor to the north or, frankly, most communities.

An early family practice pioneer, Dr. Anna Beth Connell led the way early on for women physicians to be not only allowed into the good ole boy network but also respected as colleagues. Women now make up the majority of medical school graduates and are coming to Lufkin in record numbers and in all specialties.

Finally, I cannot even begin to talk about healthcare without considering the incredible support of local foundations, especially the TLL Temple Foundation and the Kurth Foundation. Their contributions can hardly be totaled or their impact measured. We struggle at a national level to figure out how to care for all people, but that burden has been significantly lowered at the local level by the incredible generosity of our foundations. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Sometimes we all need a reminder of how green the grass is right here in Lufkin and Angelina County, and what a privilege it is to have the healthcare community and resources we have. Next time you see a local doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, thank them for living and working here!

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Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist