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Dr. Samir Ghobrial isn't retired, but he's also not on call 24/7 any more

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By John Barnhart

Dr. Samir Ghobrial has been working in Bedford for a long time.
    “It will be 21 years come January 1,” he said.

    During those years he has delivered about 3,000 babies. Before Bedford Memorial Hospital closed its maternity ward, Dr. Ghobrial found himself occasionally delivering the babies of babies he had delivered at the beginning of his practice here.
    Dr. Ghobrial was born on June 3, 1945, in Cairo, Egypt and earned his medical degree from Cairo University. Although Dr. Ghobrial is from Egypt, he’s not Muslim. He’s Coptic Orthodox Christian. Dr. Ghobrial said that Coptic Christians make    up    5    percent   of   Egypt’s   population   and   are Muslim majority. He said that it’s worse today than it was when he was a young man living there.
    Dr. Ghobrial came to the United States as soon as he received his medical degree, but it wasn’t discrimination at home that brought him here. He said that America and England had the most advanced medical technology in the world. What’s more, he wanted to be a specialist and there was no opportunity for that in Egypt.
    “I went to the United States Embassy and told them that I wanted to emigrate,” Dr. Ghobrial said.
    He got the necessary visa, but it took a while.
    “It took almost a year of running around to get all the necessary papers,” he said.
    Dr. Ghobrial had three areas in which he was interested in specializing — ophthalmology, surgery and obstetrics/gynecology. When he got to the U. S. he applied at New York University. An opening for ob/gyn work was the first of his areas of interest to open and that’s what he took.
    As an immigrant and graduate of a foreign medical school, Dr. Ghobrial had to pass an exam for an American Certificate for Foreign Medical Graduate. Meanwhile, he also worked to improve his then minimal English.
    The program for his specialty was four years long and included a residency at a large hospital. One baby he delivered during that time was particularly memorable.
    “It was in a car in front of the emergency room,” he said.
    What’s more, it was a breach birth and the baby was mostly out, hanging by its head. The baby survived and, although he doesn’t know how the child did in later years, he knows that a healthy baby left the hospital.
    Dr. Ghobrial said that obstetricians, back then, were routinely trained to handle breach births. That’s something that’s changed over the years. He said that, today, the standard way to deliver a baby, if the doctor knows it’s going to be a breach birth, is by Cesarean section. Delivering a breach birth is riskier.
    “After all, you don’t want a bunch of lawyers chasing you around,” he said.
    The downside of this is that experience with delivering a breach birth is a tool that a doctor may not have available to him today.
    The hospital he was at then was a big hospital and 20,000 babies were born in its maternity ward each year.
    “We [the residents] just moved from one room to another, catching babies,” he said.
    “You have to learn, and you have to learn quickly,” Dr. Ghobrial went on to say, “so they put you on the front line. ‘Go catch babies.’”
    After he finished his residency, Dr. Ghobrial started his own private practice on Long Island in 1977. Two years later, he married his wife, Eleanor, to whom he is still married. She was a nurse instructor and they met while she was following some of her students.
    They have two sons.
    By 1989, his sons were 7 and 3 years old. Crime was rising in the area and the couple wanted to find a better place to raise their children.
    “My wife didn’t want to go all the way to Florida,” he said, “so we settled in the middle.”
    Now that he’s 65 and Bedford Memorial doesn’t have a maternity ward anymore, Dr. Ghobrial is ready to slow down. He won’t have to be up all night delivering babies and then keep daytime appointments.
    But slowing down does not mean retiring.
    “And sit home and do what?” he asked. “You just have to work. It’s good for me, it’s good for the community, to help everybody I can.”
    He still may be up some nights as he is on call in the emergency department on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Generally, however, he will be providing gynecological care.
    “It’s better than seven days a week,” he said.
    Dr. Ghobrial’s practice is Bedford GYN, located in the building directly opposite from the hospital’s new front entrance, where he will continue to see patients. He’s open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. He does surgeries at the hospital on Thursdays and can see a patient on an emergency basis on that day.
    The services he offers include adnexal surgery, aspiration of breast mass, colposcopy, diagnostic and therapeutic D & C, diagnostic and operative laparoscopy, NovaSure (endometrial ablation), hysterectomy, sterilization and repair of rectocele, enterocele or pelvic prolapse.
    To make an appointment, call (540) 586-6818.
    By the way, the hospital will host a reception for Dr. Ghobrial in the lobby of the new entrance on Nov. 17 from 5:30 until 7 p.m. The general public is invited.