Tallahassee’s 1st Black pediatrician retiring after 40 years in practice
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The first Black pediatrician in Tallahassee is set to retire after more than 40 years serving the community.
“To be leaving all my wonderful patients, and the idea of not being able to help a lot of them personally, it does give me pause,” said Dr. Lionel Henry of Adolescent and Pediatric Medical Center.
Dr. Henry came to Tallahassee to open his private practice in 1982 after completing his residency at Howard University’s College of Medicine. “I was quite prepared to do what I had to do to make a difference - a positive difference - for the children,” said Dr. Henry.
When he first came to Tallahassee, Dr. Henry said patients came from Jacksonville, Perry, and Apalachicola to have him as their primary doctor. “I remember very vividly, one woman used to walk almost 25 miles away,” said Dr. Henry. “She used to walk with her kids to come here.”
One patient said Dr. Henry had a strong impact in her life. “Pretty much my entire family has been coming to Dr. Henry all this time,” said Tamika Thurman. She brought her kids to Dr. Henry and her grandchildren are now his patients as well. “It’s going to be hard to find someone to fill those shoes,” said Thurman. “Those are some big shoes to fill.”
During his time, Dr. Henry helped found the Tallahassee Pediatric Foundation to give families access to healthcare, regardless of income. “That made me feel that I was doing something important, and making a contribution to the society in Tallahassee,” said Dr. Henry.
His last day in the office is Friday, July 29. “Even though I’m a bit sad, it’s time to go off into the sunset,” said Dr. Henry.
Thurman said Dr. Henry became a part of her family over the years. “I know it’s going to take some time to find a new pediatrician, and I know we will, but Dr. Henry is going to be truly missed,” said Thurman.
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