Local Physician Visits White House
Fresh from a visit to the Oval Office and the Rose Garden, Dr. Lori Heim says President Obama has a profound understanding of the health-care issues affecting patients and physicians.
Heim, who will become president of the American Academy of Family Physicians on Oct. 14, was among a group of doctors from across the country who joined the president for a Monday morning Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.
Prior to the ceremony, she joined several other doctors for a briefing with the president in the Oval Office.
"I thought he was incredibly articulate," Heim said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "He has an obvious grasp of the complexity of health care and the difficulties of reform."
Heim lives in Vass. She is employed as a hospitalist on the staff of Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg.
"The president understands the concern of primary care physicians and the impact on patients and on health professionals," she said.
The Monday ceremony was a public relations measure on the part of Doctors for America, a grassroots organization of more than 15,000 physicians in all 50 states who are actively promoting passage of "meaningful health reform legislation," a news release said. Heim was one of two doctors representing North Carolina.
About 15 doctors met with the president in the Oval Office for about 10 minutes prior to the Rose Garden ceremony. An estimated 150 attended the Rose Garden event.
Even though it was raining in Moore County Monday, the weather was pleasant in Washington, Heim said.
"It was gorgeous weather," she said.
The scene was something of a sea of white coats, because all doctors attending were asked to don their lab coats for the occasion. Heim said she had to drive to the hospital in Laurinburg to pick up a lab coat before taking her early morning flight to Washington.
Heim said Obama talked about the need for health-care reform and doctors' interest in helping their patients.
"He said we have a role to play in the health-care debate," she said. "He encouraged physicians to speak out and let the public know about this need."
Heim said she was impressed with the president's understanding of the issues facing physicians as they try to provide quality care and meet the needs of patients.
She said Obama also talked about the next steps to be taken and the physician's changing role in health care.
Obama emphasized the need to provide student loans to make sure the country has a future supply of qualified primary care physicians.
"He talked about how physicians can help move the debate forward in a way that is constructive for both patients and professionals," Heim said.
Heim said her awareness of the need for health-care reform has been heightened by her service as a hospitalist at Scotland Memorial. A hospitalist concentrates on the treatment of hospitalized patients.
"The president said that health-care reform is critical and cannot be postponed," she said.
Heim hopes to return to the White House when the president signs the health-care reform bill.
She will travel to Boston next week for her installation as president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an organization with more than 94,000 members across the country.
An honors graduate of Portland State University, Heim earned her medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
Her residency was at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and she received a fellowship in faculty development and research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her military service lasted 25 years, and she retired as an Air Force colonel.
She and her husband, Jim Heim, make their home on a horse farm near Vass. He is the current chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at (910) 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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