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Mont Alto doctor named Pa. Physician of the Year

June 03, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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Doc of the yearMont Alto doctor named Pa. Physician of the Year

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Dr. Diana Lyon-Loftus knew her future husband would make a caring doctor when she observed him in medical school.

Her devotion to Dr. Gregory Lyon-Loftus, her husband of 23 years and Pennsylvania's new Family Physician of the Year, were evident when she spoke of his days as a medical student. The couple are partners in their family medical practice in Mont Alto.

"Once he was sitting by the bed holding hands with a patient. His resident supervisor told him he was wasting his time, that he was there to learn medicine," she said.

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"He didn't know much about medicine then, but he knew about this and he's still doing it," she said of his manner with patients.

Gregory Lyon-Loftus' bedside manner has so impressed his patients, who know him simply as "Dr. Greg," that one longtime patient nominated him for Family Physician of the Year, an annual award sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians. The group represents nearly 2,500 family physicians.

He was among 20 physicians in the final round for the award. He said he did not know of his nomination until notified by academy officials.

Gregory Lyon-Loftus, 53, and his wife opened Mont Alto Family Practice in 1984. Dr. Garrett Blanchet, also a family physician, is the third partner. In 1995 the practice became a rural health clinic to provide health care to an underserved population, he said.

Lyon-Loftus said family physicians handle more than 85 percent of a patient's primary care and refer the rest to specialists.

"Family physicians develop long-term relationships with their patients. We become the person they can turn to," he said.

Lyon-Loftus grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and went to a Catholic school. He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Wheeling Jesuit College, a master's in social psychology, a doctorate in clinical psychology and a medical degree from Michigan State University. The couple met at the university.

His medical school tuition was paid by a Public Health Services scholarship that required him to provide three years of public service. He spent those years as a physician at a Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona from 1981 to 1984.

"Doctoring is about caring, not just being a good technician. I'm not a better person because I'm a doctor. Doctors need the people they take care of. It's a reciprocal thing, much like a mountain climber needs a mountain to challenge," he said.

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