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It’s Not Just About the Medicine with George Koulianos, M.D.

It’s Not Just About the Medicine with George Koulianos, M.D.

MOBILE – The main hallway of The Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile is lined with photos of smiling babies. The large collages are softly lit by recessed lighting in the ceiling above each frame, and as you walk down the hallway, it’s impossible not to smile at what the physicians and staff affectionately refer to as “our angels.”

This is a place filled with dreams, hope and love, and that’s just how founder and medical director George Koulianos, M.D., likes it. With his easy smile and affable demeanor, he lights up a room whenever he walks in. This is a man whose professional accomplishments in the field of reproductive medicine have made The Center for Reproductive Medicine one of the most successful medical practices of its kind in the country.

The son of an immigrant family, Dr. Koulianos is no stranger to hard work. His father barely escaped the Greek Islands for America during World War II following 52 days and nights of constant bombings by German forces.

“I grew up working with my hands. I grew up pumping gas and fixing cars. My father wanted to make sure I hated it so much that I would study hard to make a life for myself. There’s no way I could ever begin to thank my father for the lessons that he taught me about life,” Dr. Koulianos said.

His father passed away when he was in medical school, but he would certainly be proud of his son. Dr. Koulianos isn’t just a successful physician. A few years ago he embarked on a new venture that began as a bit of a hobby for him and a summer job for his son and daughter. Little did he know just how successful or how much fun he would have being a farmer.

“I love it!” Dr. Koulianos exclaimed. “It’s amazing how many people don’t know where their food comes from. I think it’s, there’s something very spiritual about the whole thing. When you look at that little tomato seedling and think what in the world is this? Then it turns into this beautiful plant that brings forth this wonderful fruit. For me, it’s like how can you not believe in God after you see that and if you live that for a growing season. So I think it’s kind of a miracle personally.”

With more grocery stores and restaurants participating in Buy Local campaigns, small organic farms such as Dr. Koulianos’ are becoming more popular on a much larger scale, plus it means more to residents to know that their produce was grown within just a few miles of their community.

“We’ve had more people approach us about putting our products on their shelves and on their menus…at times it’s been more than we can. We’ve grown so much from what began as land for Dove hunting and hay to now supplying two of the best chefs in Mobile County and new customers in Baldwin County with our produce,” Dr. Koulianos explained.

As much fun as he was having farming with his son and daughter, Dr. Koulianos realized his little patch of heaven had a different purpose. He was already using it as a way to teach his children responsibility and life lessons about their future, but this lesson was more for him.

“I began to realize I was promoting health through nutrition…and isn’t that what a doctor is supposed to do?” Dr. Koulianos questioned. “There was major research beginning to come out about endocrine disruptors and reproduction. These endocrine disruptors that are in synthetic pesticides are really bad for us. So as the farm progressed, the literature got even stronger about the negative effects of endocrine disruptors for a whole slew of areas in health, not just reproduction, but diabetes, heart disease, and on and on. The European Union calculated the cost of endocrine disruptors on the health system in the billions of dollars. Wow! It’s become a way for me as a physician to interact with my patients in a different way. As people get more food conscious and realize what they put into their bodies, it determines what happens to their bodies. I can tell you we’ve had patients who have come to us from other fertility clinics who’ve done IVF and had terrible outcomes. We’ve told them before that if we do your IVF, this is what you’re going to do – you’re going to drop 10 or 20 pounds, you’re going to change the way you eat, you’re going to get all these carbs out of your diet, you’re going to eat these types of foods, you’re going to take certain supplements that help with fertility, you’re going to take the supplements, and then three months from now we’re going to do your IVF cycle. Nutrition really makes a difference, and they make beautiful embryos! Our patients have gotten pregnant in our program where they couldn’t get pregnant elsewhere.”

What began as a small hobby then a family tradition of passing on life lessons from father to son and finally an extension of his chosen profession, Dr. Koulianos said working his land gives him a sense of peace and is a profound experience that’s “good for the soul.” While his son and daughter have moved on, the farm continues to prosper in more ways than one.

“I think one of the great lessons we need to teach our young doctors is that you really are practicing something very special. Medicine might be science, it might be curative, but ultimately, more than anything else, it has to be healing. I really believe in the calling of medicine and in its own way, it’s its own unique ministry. My medical license is very special to me. It means I have a moral obligation to put the needs of the citizens of this state before mine. That’s what a license to practice medicine means. So a farm fits beautifully with the practice of medicine because I’m helping my patients in a different way,” Dr. Koulianos said.

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Bernard H. Eichold II, M.D. Receives 2018 Laureate Award

Bernard H. Eichold II, M.D. Receives 2018 Laureate Award

The Alabama Chapter of the American College of Physicians recently presented the 2018 Laureate Award to Bernard H. Eichold II, MD, DrPH, FACP of Mobile. He has been a supporter of the Col­lege and has represented its pro­fessional ideals throughout his career. He has also been a long­standing advocate for public health in the State of Alabama through his roles with the Mobile County Health Department.

Dr. Eichold received a Bachelor of Science degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, La., in 1975, and then obtained his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1979. In addition, he also received Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in 1978 and 1980, respectively. Dr. Eichold completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of South Alabama in 1983. He served as a clinical fellow in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Joslin Clinic and as a research fellow in Endocrinology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 1984. He then entered private practice in 1984 by join­ing Mobile Medical Clinic and continued in private practice until 1990 when he became the Health Officer for the Mobile County Health Department.

During his time with the Mobile County Health Department, Dr. Eichold has made many contributions to both Mobile County and the State of Alabama. In addition to being the Mobile County Health Officer, he served as the Assistant State Health Officer for five years, and as the Area Health Officer since 1995. In these roles, he has been a staunch advocate of improving the health of his fellow Alabamians. Examples of his efforts during his career include improving vaccination rates, increasing mental health services, combating tobacco use, reducing teen pregnancies, and promoting of healthy activities.

Dr. Eichold has been active in academic medicine throughout his professional career as well. He served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University from 1990 to 2005, and as a Clinical Assistant Professor from 1992 to 2005 in the University’s Community Medicine Program. He also served as Clinical Assis­tant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of South Alabama starting in 1984, rose to the rank of Clinical Professor in 1994, and continues to serve as an Adjunct Profes­sor today. During his tenure within the Department of Medicine at the University of South Alabama, he served as the Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine from 1990 to 2011 and as the Public Health and Epidemiology course director for more than 20 years.

In addition to his roles in public health and academics, Dr. Eichold has provided service to the community and the country. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserve and currently is an Aviation Medical Examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration. He has been an active member in many societies and organiza­tions over his career, including the American College of Physi­cians, Aerospace Medical Association, Coastal Conservation Association, NASA DEVELOP program, and the United Way. Dr. Eichold has served on the governing boards of the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science Foundation, the Bay Area Food Bank, the Coalition for a Drug-Free Mobile County, the Mobile Association for Retarded Citizens Inc., and the Mobile Chapter of the Sickle Disease Association of America. He is also a past president of the Alabama Board of the American Diabetes Association.

Because of his long career of distinguished service to others, Dr. Eichold has received multiple honors and awards. In 2018, he was recognized as the Alumnus of the Year from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He received the William Henry Sanders Award from the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in 2002 in recognition of his many years of committed service to the public health needs of Alabama. In 2012, he received the Exceptional Public Achievement Medal from NASA and was also recognized as Mobilian of the Year.

Dr. Eichold is married to his beloved wife, Carolyn Maxwell Delchamps, and has three children. In his free time, he enjoys being with family at their farm and helping others.

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Back in Time with the Mobile Medical Museum

Back in Time with the Mobile Medical Museum

MOBILE – The Mobile area has many sites for tourists to visit during a stay. From the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center & IMAX Theater, the USS Alabama Battleship, the beautiful flowers of Bellingrath Gardens, dipping your toes in the warm Gulf waters of Dauphin Island, to celebrating Mardi Gras at the Mobile Carnival Museum, there’s one attraction in Mobile that may not immediately catch your attention, but you surely should not miss…the Mobile Medical Museum.

Founded in 1962 by Dr. Samuel Eichold II of Mobile from a modest collection of 100 medical artifacts, books and documents from the 18th and 19th centuries collected by Patricia Huestis Paterson, daughter of another Mobile physician, James Heustis (1828-1891). And thus began the museum’s mission, to preserve and exhibit medical artifacts that commemorate Mobile’s importance in the evolution of medical education and public health in the State of Alabama and the Gulf Coast.

It wasn’t long before the museum began to grow, as did the collections, which showcase the early days and advances in nursing, radiology, infectious diseases, pharmacology and more. Eventually, the museum outgrew its locations and moved, more than once. As the collections continued to grow, space became more and more precious. Displays that include and iron lung from the 1930s, an antique wheelchair still in perfect condition, Civil War medical tools, and two life-sized papier-mache anatomical models that belonged to Dr. Josiah Nott demonstrating the autonomic nervous system and the lymphatic system.

Mobile surgeon Charles B. Rodning, M.D., PhD., is president of the Mobile Medical Museum and has been affiliated with the organization for 40 years. In fact, he knew the founder, Dr. Eichold.

“Since my family and I located to Mobile, I interacted with the founder, Dr. Eichold, in part because of my education as a physician and part because I have a keen interest in medical history,” Dr. Rodning said. “A substantial component of my scholarly endeavor has been in relationship to medical history, particularly in relationship to how it relates to this community and to this region.”

It has been his love of this history, and this organization, that produced a special exhibition space, the Mary Elizabeth and Charles Bernard Rodning Gallery, at the museum. “Very proud to have a gallery here that will bear the Rodning family name. The Rodning family is most appreciative and most grateful and humble for that honor,” Dr. Rodning said.

The truth is that the Rodning Gallery is but one of many housed in a space which has become much too small for these collections. With more than 5,000 medical artifacts, the museum rotates its showcase pieces regularly and is currently housed, quite fittingly, on the first floor of Mobile’s oldest house. The Vincent-Doan-Walsh House is on the National Register of Historic Places and sits on the campus of the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital. The Mobile Medical Museum has been located here since 2003.

As Dr. Rodning explained, there is a continuous struggle for exhibit space.

“We only have approximately 1,000 sq. ft. at the moment and at least five times that many artifacts and specimens and manuscripts and records that we could display. Even given the history of this building, if given the opportunity to move, we would,” he said.

As Museum Executive Director, Daryn Glassbrook, Ph.D., explained, making the most of the situation has become an art all to itself.

“This location has some advantages being in a medical quarter of the city, and not too far from downtown,” Dr. Glassbrook said. “A lot of people have the misunderstanding that we are affiliated with the University of South Alabama, which has never been true. We are small and independent and locally funded, which most people don’t know. Our funding comes from donations and a few foundations. We are going to bring back some event fund-raising in the coming year. We made some progress in event fundraising in the last year, but it’s a struggle. All the nonprofits in Mobile are dealing with this same issue.”

The Mobile Medical Museum receives about 1,100 visitors annually, and most of the visitors are students of all ages…from grade school through college and medical school. Dr. Glassbrook said most tourists who are not students, however, find the museum through TripAdvisor because they are looking for a unique experience when they are visiting the Mobile area, and that helps him to plan each display a little better.

“When I organize the displays I’m thinking about which artifacts these visitors would most like to see. A lot of the medical museums have as part of their audience people who are looking for the unusual. It’s not the most mainstream form of entertainment,” Dr. Glassbrook laughed. “We’re rooted in history, but we try to be contemporary, too. We’re planning a Founder’s Day in May to celebrate Dr. Eichold’s birthday, and this summer we’re launching a summer camp in partnership with the Gulf Coast Exploreum for the first time.”

According to Dr. Rodning, many do not realize that the Mobile Medical Museum is a not-for-profit organization operating on contributions. Currently, the museum is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment, but museum staff is hoping to expand the hours to one evening and one weekend for drop-in visits. If you would like to know more about the museum or to make a contribution, visit the museum online at

“I think a lot of history buffs would enjoy a tour of the museum. People who do come here are amazed at what medicine was like 50, 100 or more years ago,” Dr. Rodning said.

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Just a Guy with a Ladder with Lee Irvin, M.D.

Just a Guy with a Ladder with Lee Irvin, M.D.

MOBILE – You probably don’t know Lee Irvin, M.D., of Mobile, and he’s fine with that. He’s the kind of gentleman you’d love to hang out with and have a drink or dinner with…swap stories with. But it’s easy to see that his medical mission over the last couple of years wears heavy on his heart.

Dr. Irvin is a pain physician. Yes, a pain physician. He said he has no problem with introducing himself that way, even though there is a bit of a stigma associated with the treatment of pain, especially in Mobile following the arrest and conviction in February 2017 of Mobile physicians Xiulu Ruan and John Patrick Couch. Couch and Ruan were convicted in federal court for operating their clinics as pill mills, raking in millions of dollars by overprescribing potent, and deadly, narcotic pain medications to patients.

“It was like driving down the road, seeing a house on fire, and you’re the guy with a ladder,” Dr. Irvin said. “I was the guy with the ladder. Of course, I was going to help those patients.”

Dr. Irvin was the first physician in Mobile to treat patients with pain pumps more than 30 years ago, so he was the first physician to step up and render aid to the patients Couch and Ruan left behind who were on pain pumps. Dr. Irvin said he had about 35 of his own patients on pain pumps at that time, but there was an influx of nearly 350 pain pump patients from the now-closed practice in need of immediate care, some exhibiting signs of withdrawal by the time he intervened.

“Unfortunately, there were another reported 7,000 to 8,000 medication-managed patients from that practice that needed assistance,” Dr. Irvin said. “There was no way I could take on all of them, but in that year and a half, I took on another several hundred more. We were on a clock. It took almost a year to get those patients weaned off that medication. So, when you ask whether I had to do this, yeah…I did.”

One huge problem Dr. Irvin noted was the lack of resources for patients who have addiction issues, resources on the local and state levels that have left patients in need of specialized care falling through the proverbial cracks.

“We are in dire need of addiction specialists, social workers, mental health professionals – resources these patients need to get better. How can there be this tremendous need, yet we still do not have these resources to help our patients?” Dr. Irvin questioned.

Dr. Irvin continues to work closely with investigators with the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners to ensure the safety and health of the patients. As he puts it, “Doctors are supposed to help,” but he said he feels the reputation of most pain physicians has been tarnished by those who have put money above the welfare of their patients.

“When someone asks me now what my specialty is, I have no trouble saying I’m in pain management. I started in anesthesiology, but for the last 10 years or so, pain physicians have had such a bad reputation because of those bad physicians mistreating this profession and endangering the lives of their patients. We don’t want to write a bunch of narcotics to cover up an underlying disease. I have an old-fashioned idea that as a physician you should sit down with your patient and talk, get a complete history…and listen. It’s amazing how much information you can get from your patients if you just listen. I haven’t done anything amazing. I just listen and take care of my patients,” Dr. Irvin explained.

It may be an old-fashioned idea, according to Dr. Irvin, but his decision to make pain management his life’s work is actually deeply rooted in the illness of a family friend.

“I had a personal reason for specializing in pain,” Dr. Irvin said. “There was a fellow I grew up next door to who was like my second father. He was my hunting and fishing buddy. There were some kids out shooting while he was quail hunting, and he caught a .22 round in the hip. His doctors kept telling him it would do more harm than good to take that round out, but it was really a red herring. There was something else going on causing his pain.”

It was about 18 months later when Dr. Irvin’s old friend was told he had prostate cancer with mets. His pain wasn’t being managed very well, and one of the last times he visited with him, he had been warned that he might not recognize him…but he did.

“I wasn’t expecting that. He was in a lot of pain, sitting on a sack of medicine, and basically not knowing where he was, but he still recognized me. I couldn’t help but think there has got to be a better way. That was my moment. That was my reason for choosing pain medicine,” Dr. Irvin said.

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