Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dr. Wilburn H. Weddington, family practice physician

Born in Hiram, Georgia, twenty-five miles west of Atlanta, Dr. Wilburn Weddington, professor emeritus of family medicine at the Ohio State University, was raised on his grandfather’s farm. Dr. Weddington still owns his grandfather’s place, he has built a log home on it and still visits.

He graduated from Morehouse College for Men in 1945 and entered Howard University’s Medical School. When he finished medical school, he practiced in Marietta, Georgia, before he entered the U.S. Army and was assigned to Lockbourne Air Base in Columbus where he rose to captain. He was discharged in 1957.

His family practice offices were located at 721 Mt. Vernon Avenue and he and his wife, Carlene, lived in Eastgate. He belonged to the Cavaliers Club and in 1971 he joined the staff at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

During the beginning of his career, primary-care physicians comprised well over half of American doctors, and Dr. Weddington remembers his field being highly respected, as medical students were excited about going into family care.

"As a young doctor in the '50s, there was dignity in practicing family medicine, and I always put the needs of my patients first," he recalls. "Even back then I did not make a huge salary, but I absolutely enjoyed my work."

As Dr. Weddington saw the numbers of family doctors beginning to decrease in the 1960s, he also experienced some of the difficulties that family physicians currently face, such as heavier patient loads, but he did his best to accommodate as many people as he could, and he never turned anyone away who could not pay. He credits the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid for enabling him to continue to provide treatment, since most of his patients were elderly and low-income.

"Family physicians are the front line of defense in diagnosing diseases before they become fatal," he says. "If we don't take steps to increase their ranks, the toll on our health-care system will be even more devastating."

Dr. Weddington is the namesake of The Weddington Society, an organization at the Ohio State University, founded in 1992, to provide support and assisstance for undergraduate students in pre-health programs. He retired from OSU’s College of Medicine in 1994.

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