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Big hearted doctor gives it all to small town

Country Dr. of the Year Award
Maddox was recognized at a ceremony on December 3 for his years of service as a country doctor. His community later held a parade in his honor.  

In this story:

Practicing medicine to help those in need

A life of giving

Making a difference for the better

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



From Medical CorrespondentRhonda Rowland

(CNN) -- Dr. Paul Maddox is a man with a big heart who gave it all to the small town of Campton, Kentucky.

For the last 46 years, Maddox has devoted his medical practice to treating one of the lowest income areas in the United States.

"I wish every small town had one (a doctor). They can do an awful lot of good," Maddox said.

For his years of service, Campton and the medical community have recognized his achievements. Maddox was named Country Doctor of the Year by Staff Care, a national temporary physician firm. The award is a way of celebrating the life saving work that often goes unnoticed in small town America.

When he became the town doctor 46 years ago, he made a promise to treat everyone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no appointments or payments necessary, and no questions asked. If patients couldn't pay their bill, he ran a tab until they could.

"A lot of people are honest and come in... Now some people didn't pay up their bill at all. We were tickled to death to get those who did," he said.

The average income in the county is just over $11,000 a year. The closest hospital is an hour away, but for Maddox those challenges didn't matter.

Since he opened his practice in the 1950s, his philosophy has attracted families from all over eastern Kentucky. To date, Maddox has treated a million and a half patients, and delivered more than 6,000 babies. At times he's seen 200 patients in a day.

His patients describe him as a "fine man" and talk of how much they appreciate him.

Paul Maddox

Practicing medicine to help those in need

When Maddox was only 6 years old, he lost his mother to breast cancer and his father to suicide. After growing up under his uncle's care, he chose to pursue a medical degree saying he wanted to improve the lives of others who needed a chance.

He and his wife Pat have four sons. She has always understood what he wanted out of a career in medicine.

"He enjoys practicing medicine, but he would try to think of other ways to help them (his patients)," she said.

In the 1960s, it was common for Maddox to treat families with eight to 10 children. As a result, poverty was common, but birth control was not. Maddox started handing out birth control pills and within three years the birthrate in the country dropped 50 percent.

"The teachers were complaining that I was taking their jobs away from them. Teachers coming into first grade saying, where are all the kids? So I won that battle," Maddox said.

A life of giving

He also battled shrinking school budgets by giving free medical care to teachers and their families.

One of those teachers was Betty Dean. She and her family, representing five generations, went to see Maddox receive his award. From 98-year-old Flossie to 3-year-old Zachary, he has treated them all.

"We're talking five generations... He's given his life, really, for our community. It has to be a gift from God to make him like he is," Dean said.

Years ago, Dean's brother-in-law was shot in a hunting accident. His arm had to be amputated at a nearby hospital. Maddox took care of the bill.

When Wayne Childers became his one-millionth patient at the age of 10, Maddox gave him a $20,000 college scholarship and offered his family free medical care for life.

Childers made sure he was at ceremony to honor Maddox.

"He's got a high moral standard, and he puts out a real good example that's hard to match," Childers said.

But these acts of kindness are not isolated examples of this doctor's generosity, but rather are a reflection of a life of giving. Maddox donates 30 percent of his income, 10 percent to his church and 20 percent to his community.

Several years ago he sold his family practice for $1.5 million. He gave $100,000 to build a town library and to help build and care for a nursing home and two children's homes in the area.

Making a difference for the better

After all the years of care Maddox has given the community, last year he became a patient himself. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He battled chemotherapy, then radiation while his patients and family watched.

Now he says he's "never felt better." "Now I'm in remission and that doesn't necessarily mean you're all right."

So how does this country doctor want to be remembered?

"I think when I leave if they say, 'well you walked through there, and you made it better"' Maddox said.

Fortunately for Campton, their doctor doesn't have to leave in order to find out he made a difference for the better.



RELATED SITES:
Staff Care
Staff Care - Country Doctor of the Year
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