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Community responds to doctor's departure

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Local parents are reacting with shock and frustration after a longtime pediatrician left Lourdes hospital this week.

Patients of Dr. John Michael Roach, who was employed by Paducah Pediatrics on Lone Oak Road, received a letter this week that stated he was no longer with the practice. Paducah Pediatrics is a member of Mercy Medical Associates, a physician group that Lourdes owns.

The letter by Mercy Medical Associates Vice President Lee Syphus reads in part:

"Dr. Roach is no longer practicing at Mercy Pediatrics/Paducah Pediatrics. This change is effective as of March 10, 2014. Your continued care is important to us."

The document lists several other associates within the practice in the Paducah, Reidland and Benton areas and their contact information to set up appointments. The letter also states that to transfer care to a physician outside Mercy Medical providers, patients will need to complete and sign a medical record release form.

Roach along with certified physician's assistant April Dunning had taken the lead in the Paducah Pediatric practice following the retirement of Dr. John Shumaker in 2006, according to the organization's website. His name was removed from the Lourdes Mercy Medical Associates website as of Thursday.

David Simmons, Lourdes hospital director of marketing and communications, released the following statement:

"Out of respect to our associates, we cannot discuss the specifics of any individual's employment status. Our pediatric practice has the capacity to serve new and existing patients. We are committed to delivering high quality and compassionate care to serve our community today and in the future."

He declined to comment further on the reason for Roach's departure, citing personnel-related confidentially issues.

Roach could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Krissy Ramey, a mother of four children, two with special needs who are patients of Roach, emphasized the quality of his care.

"It's completely devastating to have the one person in Paducah that you trust and who takes to heart all of your concerns, just gone" she said.

Ramey serves as president of Families on the Spectrum, a non-profit family support group for parents of children with autism. She commended Roach's skills specifically with children in the special needs community and his open-minded and research driven approach to medicine.

Christina Hasty, whose son has autism and was being treated by Roach, said his departure leaves many local families without a place to go with their medical questions and needs.

"I was horribly shocked but my first reaction was that he (Roach) was not at fault," she said. "He is a good man and a wonderful doctor."

She said Roach was an "extra-mile" doctor always willing to learn, answer questions and accommodate the needs of any and all patients.

Both women said they plan to follow Roach if he opens a personal private practice. A Facebook group in support of Roach titled "Wherever Dr. Roach goes we will follow" had about 1,700 members as of Thursday night. The John Roach Pediatric Fund has been created and donations are being accepted at all Paducah Bank locations to raise money for a potential future practice.

"With this situation we don't know where to turn because there was no one like him," Hasty said. "It's shockingly sad but maybe this is his opportunity to go out on his own."

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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