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Community rallies around Roach

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

A Paducah doctor voiced gratitude Friday for the strong grassroots community movement that has followed his unexplained departure from Lourdes hospital.

"I can't believe that I have people who are this understanding and have stood by and defended me," Dr. John Michael Roach told the Sun. "When I think that I almost left the area afterwards makes me ashamed because the people here are so great."

The Facebook group titled "Wherever Dr. Roach Goes We Will Follow" had nearly 2,200 members as of Friday. They include parents of Roach's patients, his family members as well as other people throughout the community who have joined the effort. Roach has used the group's Facebook page as a forum to thank his supporters, address rumors about his departure and speak about his medical philosophy.

Roach, who was employed by Paducah Pediatrics on Lone Oak Road, left the practice March 10, according to a letter written by Lee Syphus, vice president of Mercy Medical Associates. Paducah Pediatrics is a member of Mercy Medical Associates, a physician group that Lourdes hospital owns. Roach said he couldn't comment on the circumstances surrounding his leave citing advice from counsel. Lourdes has declined to comment, citing personnel issues.

But Roach's Facebook posts may give clues regarding the reasons for his departure. Although he doesn't mention a hospital or medical provider by name, his writings express his strong views in regard to patient care, prescribing medicine and corporate policies.

"If I have given my past employers a hard time it's because I want things done right and for the right reason," he wrote in one post. "Not because somebody 'without a clue' behind a desk in a corporate office building thinks it's a good idea. I do not see the benefit or intelligence behind changing a process that works the way it is, is safer for patients in the long run, and is cheaper in the end, just to satisfy some corporate bureaucrat's quota."

The post continues: "I believe in the philosophy: If it ain't broke, then it don't need fixin'. That does not go over very well with the egos of others who sit behind a desk and perform computer models of how things should go without any knowledge of experience at real world processes."

He added, "I am never going to take money from someone who needs it more."

Roach, who finished his residency in 2000 and had been practicing at Lourdes hospital for nine years, said his definition of a good physician is someone who takes the time needed to determine the correct diagnosis.

In the interview Friday, the doctor defended his moral and ethical conduct while practicing with Paducah Pediatrics.

"I'm a strongly moral person and will say that my morality was never compromised, and I never did anything immoral, illegal or unethical," he said. 

He plans to open his own private practice around the end of May. He advised former patients to continue going to Paducah Pediatrics until his new practice is open. The typical time required to open a practice and set up the necessary insurance is two to three months.

Roach is devising a business plan and searching for office space. He plans to hire a nurse and physician's assistant, he said. Roach cited the overwhelming community support and strong local ties as the force behind his decision.

"To me the most important thing will always be taking care of the kids and making sure they are healthy," he said Friday. "Some places just want to get people out as quick as possible and move on to the next person."

The wall on the group's page is filled with personal stories about the special, individualized service provided called "RoMo" for Roach moments. Sarah Stewart Holland, an active member of the group and parent to two children ages 4 and 2 who are Roach's patients, said connections forged over shared frustration for the situation and love for Roach have been truly special to watch.

"To see that the pediatrician that I personally loved so much also meant so much to others feels amazing," Holland said. "He was a great doctor, and the stories speak volumes to the type of care he provided."

She said the sheer number of members in the group along with the diversity of stories from healthy children to those with special needs speaks to Roach's impact in the local area.

"We are serious and passionate about him," she said. "It  just shows that the community is hungry for a relationship with a physician and wants to be invested with our medical provider. Dr. Roach made it feel like a community rather than a for-profit system."

Leaders in the group have designed T-shirts and car window decals with the tagline of support for Roach. The John Roach Pediatric Fund has been created, and donations are being accepted at all Paducah Bank locations or online at https://fundly.com/john-roach-pediatric-fund.

The committee sponsored a fundraiser Wednesday at a local Domino's Pizza where a percentage of sales that mentioned Roach went toward the fund. Future events are set for Monday at Paducah Station Burger Co., Friday at Sweet Cece's and on April 1 at Texas Roadhouse, where a portion of sales will be donated to the fund.

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

Comments made about this article - 1 Total

posted on: Saturday, March 22, 2014 9:32 AM

Title: Community rallies around Roach

Thank God for a doctor who cares about patients and has the attributes mentioned in the article. I don't know him or have had any experience with him, but he sounds like a great person and doctor. The support shown by Paducah area people speaks well of our local citizens.

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