Posts Tagged auburn

VCOM-Auburn Provides Care and Supplies to Lee County Tornado Victims

VCOM-Auburn Provides Care and Supplies to Lee County Tornado Victims

BEAUREGARD – Faculty, students and staff at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Auburn campus have been working to provide free medical care and supplies to neighboring Beauregard, Alabama area tornado victims. Following the devastating tornado outbreak on Sunday, March 3, VCOM-Auburn administrators worked quickly with community partners to devise a plan to try to assist storm victims. A supply drive was held, which saw donations of bottled water, sports drinks, personal care items, baby care supplies, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies and more.

“What VCOM is doing for the local community is exactly what we strive to do as future physicians — giving our time and knowledge for those in need,” said Tram-Anh Huynh, a second-year student at VCOM-Auburn. “I am really proud to be part of a community that jumped in without hesitation to help the Lee County tornado victims.”

On Monday morning, a tent was erected at Beauregard Drugs and Dr. Martin Roach’s Beauregard Clinic to provide free-of-charge, non-life-threatening medical care to storm victims and rescue and recovery personnel. A pull-type RV trailer was loaned to the effort, which has offered welcome shelter from the cold wind and a place to store relief supplies for distribution. Physicians and students from VCOM have staffed the tent each day from morning until evening.

On Wednesday, March 6, Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital joined the effort by arriving on scene with a mobile triage unit. This unit, essentially an RV-type vehicle, offers two patient care rooms in a spacious, climate-controlled environment. Medical professionals from Piedmont Columbus Regional have committed to be on site at least through the weekend.

“We are extremely grateful for the cooperation and partnership with Beauregard Drugs, Beauregard Medical Clinic, the Piedmont Columbus Regional mobile unit and Providence Baptist Church,” said J.J. White, D.O., PhD, VCOM-Auburn’s associate dean for simulation and technology, discipline chair for emergency medicine and the College’s disaster response leader for this effort. “We are amazed by the outpouring of support by the entire community and hope to be flexible, adaptable and productive with our relief efforts.”

On Thursday, March 7, the Piedmont Columbus Regional mobile unit, along with the VCOM relief tent and trailer, moved 1.5 miles to Providence Baptist Church at the request of the incident commander. This new location has become the focus of the volunteer efforts for the community. VCOM physicians and students plan to remain at this new location through the weekend.

“Our involvement with relief efforts began the night of the storms treating patients in the emergency department at East Alabama Medical Center,” said VCOM-Auburn fourth-year student Gunnar Magnuson. “Consistently, we have been very encouraged at the overwhelming number of individuals and local health institutions like VCOM-Auburn and its partners looking to help their neighbors in any way they can.”

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The Many Hats of Richard Freeman, M.D.

The Many Hats of Richard Freeman, M.D.

OPELIKA — Dr. Richard Freeman’s office at Pediatric Associates of Auburn (which includes Drs. Ellen Royal, Rian Anglin and Katie Wolter) overlooks beautiful woods where wild turkeys have been known to roam. Inside his office are keepsakes of his past from photos of his time in the U.S. Navy to an identical propeller from a Piper J-3 Cub, the airplane he learned to fly in.

In Tullahoma, Tenn., Dr. Freeman put his physics and mathematics degree to work as a civilian employee of ARO, Inc., a civilian contractor for the U.S. Air Force. Although the company had four divisions, he chose the aerospace environmental facility because it was responsible for outer space simulations. Before long, Dr. Freeman took advantage of a company perk, which allowed him to pursue his Master’s degree in physics. It wasn’t long when he decided a different career path would be in his future.

“I had about half the coursework done for my master’s degree in physics before I decided that I wanted to do medicine. The company doctor was a really nice gentleman who had been to Vanderbilt Medical School and had retired from his private practice to become our company doctor. He said ‘Son, resign this job, go to Knoxville, do a year of pre-med, and see how you like it. You might be surprised.’ And I did,” Dr. Freeman said.

Knoxville proved a wise decision, not only as a career choice but also as a personal one. While completing a year of pre-med courses, Dr. Freeman met his wife there.

“On our first date, I took Sherry flying. When I was working in aerospace research I had learned to fly and got my private pilot’s license. It was a great first date! We flew over Cades Cove and Fontana Dam. We’ve never forgotten it!” Dr. Freeman laughed.

After Knoxville, Dr. Freeman went on to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill. He still laughs as he recalls his first day and a special party at the dean’s house.

“The first day is usually for registration and getting books. After that, the dean, Dr. Isaac M Taylor, invited the class over to his home for a reception. There were two boys running around the house. One of the boys was Livingston Taylor and the other was James Taylor…that James Taylorthe musician,” he laughed. “Some of my classmates knew him because he had a band that played in town. Yeah…he was pretty good!”

After he finished medical school in 1970, Dr. Freeman landed in Birmingham where he did a mixed program of internal medicine and pediatrics in the first year of training preparing to stay for his internal medicine residency following completion of his pediatric residency. He had joined the U.S. Navy the year before his pre-med year at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. However, after finishing his pediatric residency he received orders to report for active duty in the pediatric department at NAS Jacksonville. In August 1975, he was released from active duty and moved to Opelika where he practiced in a clinic for two years before moving to Auburn where he opened his own medical clinic. It was not long before it was time for him to put on another hat…preceptor for pre-med students.

“In 1977 I got a call from Dr. Frank Stevens who was the professor of chemistry at Auburn University,” Dr. Freeman explained. “The university was trying to start a pre-med program. He asked if I could have some students shadow me in my practice. We’ve been doing that ever since. It’s been years ago, but I had a patient who delivered a baby in Birmingham. When they got ready to go home, the neonatologist called to let me know they were sending the parents and the baby home and to set up an appointment for a follow-up. As it turned out, the neonatologist was one of my pre-med students from Auburn who had rotated through my office. Small world!”

Before long, the flying bug bit again when one of our office nurse’s husband, who happened to be a U2 pilot and flight instructor at Auburn University, invited him on a flight, which he couldn’t resist. Dr. Freeman already had his private pilot’s license and had monitored the Navy’s flight surgeon program when on active duty at NAS Pensacola one summer. He completed the program at Auburn University for a commercial instrument rating, a multi-instrument rating, and his flight instructor rating. Then, Auburn University asked him to become a part-time flight instructor.

“I’m not current, so I don’t fly now. I just pay Delta and bum rides,” Dr. Freeman laughed. “In 1985 the community needed an aviation medical examiner to issue medical certificates to qualified pilots, so I went to school in Oklahoma City for a week to get my certification. I’ve been an AME since 1981. We see airline pilots and Auburn students who are learning how to fly and talk about aviation and flying – it’s a lot of fun. When you’re an aviation medical examiner, you wear a different hat from being a medical doctor. Technically you’re not a treating physician. You’re really an agent for the Federal Aviation Administration. When I put on the AME hat, I’m not diagnosing and not treating but evaluating this person. It is a public service and I see the role from both sides having been a pilot as well.”

In August 2016, Dr. Freeman became a different type of instructor when he was asked to present lectures on various pediatric topics to VCOM Auburn University medical students.

“That’s been a lot of fun, and that’s another hat. I can’t just waltz into the classroom and throw slides up on the screen,” Dr. Freeman explained. “I have to study to prepare for my presentations. It’s good for me, too, because I learn with the students. As physicians, we should never stop learning. I get to refresh my memory, and the students definitely keep me on my toes.”

Dr. Freeman lives in Opelika with his wife Sherry. They have two children. Kelly and her husband, Charlie, live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They have three children — Elizabeth, Anna Jane and Charles. Mac and his wife, Ashley, live in Montgomery, and they also have three children — Mattie, Mac III and Annie Barnes.

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