COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In Alabama, the rural health care crisis is spreading, according to a new article by the University of Alabama System.
The State of Alabama is not ignoring the problem, putting some tangible programs in place to address the issue.
A new program called “Bama-Care” was implemented to obtain 36 primary care nurse practitioners to work in rural and underserved areas.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 62 of the states’ 67 counties need more frontline doctors, and the picture in Georgia is just as problematic. 79 counties in the peach state have no gynecologist.
A Columbus father and son doctor duo is also tackling the problem head-on, one baby at a time.
With equipment and staff in two, Dr. Thomas Nathan Malone and son Dr. Thomas Michael Malone all load into their SUV every Tuesday headed for Eufaula, Alabama from their Phenix City office.
"About a year ago, we were looking at a way to service our patients who were coming a distance away,” explained Dr. Michael Malone, Oobstetrician and gynecologist. "The distance from Eufaula to Columbus is about 100 miles round trip, quite a challenge for pregnant mothers to travel on a regular basis.
“This is my second time and the first time I had my baby. I had to go all the way to Columbus to get seen. This is awesome. It saves a lot of gas and time,” added LaTarla Lewis.
The last time Eufaula had an obstetrician was in the 80s until the Malone’s felt the call to sacrifice their time and money to ensure babies in Alabama get a health start.
Quanteshia Woods of Eufaula gave birth to a healthy baby boy in February of this year, after undergoing pre-natal care at the Malone practice.
News Leader 9 crews were there when she came into the office Tuesday for her six-weeks check up. Dr. Thomas Nathan Malone was delighted to see little Dalen was doing well.
With every infant he delivers, Dr. Thomas Nathan Malone said he carefully holds the babies above his head as seen in the movie Roots, thanking the Almighty God for letting them come into the world nice and normal.
"The biggest reward I get is that when a patient is coming to us and they are having a good experience and they say thank you and I turn around and say thank you, because without them I wouldn’t have a job, said Dr. Thomas Nathan Malone.
Columbus’ first black ob-gyn Dr. Thomas Nathan Malone came on the scene in 1978. 50 years ago this year, he graduated from MeHarry Medical College in Nashville and in 2006, his son Thomas Michael Malone joined the practice. "My dad’s a trailblazer, adding, it’s a wonderful thing to work with him.”
And if Dr. Dad has his way, the dynamic duo doesn’t have any plans to stop tag teaming anytime soon. "As long as I feel good, as long as I can do what I do based on my experience and training, then I’ll continue to do it.