- Final part of series
Dr. Rahim Farid will retire from medical practice March 1. A retirement party was held for him last Wednesday. Prior to the party Farid was asked to share his thoughts about medicine in Clay County during his 42-year tenure and his philosophy of America, the country he adopted and loves.
The surgeon talked about some of the early problems in the surgical area. To increase income all of the doctors helped with surgical cases. But they all wanted the first 8 a.m. case.
"Ms. Louise Philabaum was the first surgery supervisor I dealt with in the hospital," Farid said. "She had a difficult time scheduling everybody. One doctor got mad and threw a book at her."
Farid said he gave up his surgery practice because of the cost of malpractice insurance. In 1961 when he started in Brazil, his annual medical insurance was $360. Until 1980, he'd never had a malpractice suit against him.
"Since 1980, I've been sued 10 times. One was settled out of court. Only one went to court and I won. The others were dropped or the Insurance Commission voted in my favor. My last insurance premium, in 2003, was $24,000."
Farid talked about his plans for retirement. "My dream is to join Doctors Without Borders. It provides volunteer medical services to needy countries. I'm hoping my physical stamina will allow that.
"I still have two years as the Clay County Health Director, which I'll complete. To me retirement is useless.
"I'm retiring for economic factor. If there's not enough patients you can't justify keeping an office open and it's difficult to keep up to par in service. But somehow I have to stop being a worthless citizen," Farid said with a smile that could not hide his sincerity. "I have to find something to contribute. I've always had a lot of involvement in the community. But I always had ambition to do more because I felt I owed it to the community."
Farid will begin retirement with his annual trip to Iran, to visit his sisters. He spoke of his feelings about America, the turmoil now going on in the Mideast and America's involvement in the Iraqi war.
"I've always objected to hyphenated names," he said. "I'm not Iranian-American. I like my Persian heritage and culture but I'm an American with a Persian heritage. There should be no Spanish-American, Jewish-American, African-American. We are Americans.
"In America we should work like different paints in a work of art. We should not stay isolated but blend together to create beauty."
When the subject of the Iraqi war came up, Farid expressed very strong feelings.
"Saddam was a dictator. In the city of Halbtche he used sarin nerve gas. It was lethal. His rocket hit my mother's house in 1988. Fortunately she was visiting here. But she had to stay here against her will due to lack of home. Saddam was an idiot.
"However, Iraqis are not better off today because of coalition attack. They have no government, no security, no electricity, no water and a civil war is appearing eminent. We have no way out and no way in and we're losing American lives.
"They should have used brain to dismantle the government, not war. I don't like Saddam but we didn't help Iraqis by doing it this way."
Many who attend the retirement party voiced feelings of admiration and respect for the energetic, kind hearted 78-year-old physician.
Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Jim Stephens seemed to express the thoughts of many. "Dr. Farid is one of the best and most talented physicians and surgeons we've had in this community. More than that he's a very nice person.
"Everybody who knows him loves him. Generations of nursing staff have loved him for his teaching and caring attitude as well as generations of physicians. He's a local treasure."
Farid's office will be closed for the practice of medicine as of March 1. But staff will be there until May 1, to help patients get relocated.