NEWPORT - "I'm super disappointed with North Country Hospital. They never even talked with the patients." This was the opening remark by Gabbie Bolton concerning the decision by North Country Hospital to replace Dr. Leslie Lockridge, the oncologist, with two part-time Dartmouth-Hitchcock oncologists working two days a week.
A public meeting between representatives of North Country Hospital and supporters of Dr. Lockridge will take place at the Newport Municipal Building tonight at 6 PM. Area legislators, patients, their families and friends, and the press are expected to attend. The meeting was called in response to the outpouring of support for Dr. Lockridge and the heavy criticism levied at the hospital for replacing him.
Bolton has been a patient of the doctor for the last four years. "He is more than a doctor; he is a friend," she went on. "Les is fighting for his job and his patients. That shows his love and compassion for us patients. He should be allowed to stay."
In a telephone interview, Bolton echoed many of Dr. Lockridge's patients and summed up why they are so fearful of loosing their doctor. "We have cancer and we need a doctor to be here for us, to help us through this, and to be a friend. And Dr. Lockridge treats his patients and their families," she added.
She said Lockridge is available to talk with family members concerning the patient and is also willing to help them through the ordeal.
Bolton is one of the organizers of the Facebook campaign to support the popular doctor. "We had hundreds of notes posted to the Facebook, but North Country erased them. That got everyone mad," she added.
Claudio Fort, President and CEO of the hospital, admitted giving the order to have the notes erased from Facebook. He said that it was because of offensive remarks about the hospital and he was only protecting the hospital. "Facebook is behind Les 100 percent," Bolton noted. "Thousands of people are on Facebook to support him."
The two part-time doctors replacing Dr. Lockridge would come up from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, NH.
Dr. Ronald P. Kubica, MD, is one of the two doctors slated to replace Dr. Lockridge. He received his medical degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM, in 1982. He served his residency of Internal Medicine at University of New Mexico Affiliated Hospitals from 1982 to 1985, and became board certified in International Medicine at that time.
He took fellowships at the same institution from 1989 to 1991 in Medical Oncology and Hematology, and then Transfusion Medicine. He was board certified in Medical Oncology in 1995 and again in 2006.
Dr. Sergey Devitskiy, MD, PhD, received his medical training from Kursk, State Medical University, Kursk, Russia, in 1989 and continued on at the same facility, receiving his PhD. In 1989 and 1990, Dr. Devitskiy took internships at Kursk Regional Hospital in Internal Medicine. He also has an internship in Internal Medicine from Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, from 2004 to 2005. He was Board Certified in Internal Medicine in 2007.
He did his residency requirements at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worchester, MA, in internal medicine from 2005 to 2007. Additionally, his fellowship in Hematology/Oncology was from the same medical school from 2008 to 2011.
Dr. Devitskiy is employed at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in St. Johnsbury.
Dr. Lockridge received his bachelor's degree in biology in 1990 from Indiana University. He went on to Chicago Medical School and received his MD in 1996. His residency was served at Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk, CT, in Internal Medicine, from 1996-1999. Included in his training was one year as a traveling physician at Harare Hospital and Periyenatwa Hospital Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa.
Lockridge went on to do his fellowship in Hematology/Oncology from 1999 to 2002 at Yale University, New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT. His certifications include the American Board of Internal Medicine - Hematology from 2002 to present. He is also a "diplomat" of the American Board of Internal Medicine, which he received in 1999, with recertification in 2009.
Dr. Lockridge holds a medical license in Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. For the last six years, he has been the hematologist and oncologist at North Country Hospital. He held the same position at the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island from 2002 to 2006. From 2004 to 2006, he served as Associate Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, as well as Clinical Instructor of Medicine at Harvard University Multiple Myeloma Clinic, and at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA. He also served as Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University School of Medicine.
He holds teaching excellence awards from the Dean at Brown University in 1994 and again in 2005. He has an excellence award from Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the field of Multiple Myeloma as well as the Morris Kaplan Student Research Fellowship from Chicago Medical School in 1992.
Dr. Lockridge holds memberships in seven organizations of national importance, all concerning cancer and its treatment. He has held teaching positions in 11 colleges and hospitals, including three Ivy League colleges: Brown, Harvard and Yale.
He has published three medical papers on his own and one with two other experts in the field of cancer research and medicine. In 2005 and 2006, he served as the editor of the Impatient Syllabus of the Medical Hospital of Rhode Island Internal Medical Residency Program.
Dr. Lockridge reported, in an interview, that he has not asked for an increase in salary or any other benefit. "And they didn't even consult me about the change," he added.
North Country Hospital has not provided salaries or cost figures for the two part-time physicians or the cost of the contract with Dartmouth-Hitchcock.