Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Dr. Thomas Purvis greets visitors at his retirement party Thursday at Natchez Regional Medical Center. Purvis, who has been an obstetrician and gynecologist in Natchez for 46 years, estimates he has delivered nearly 7,000 babies.
Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Dr. Thomas Purvis greets visitors at his retirement party Thursday at Natchez Regional Medical Center. Purvis, who has been an obstetrician and gynecologist in Natchez for 46 years, estimates he has delivered nearly 7,000 babies.

Archived Story

Dr. Purvis ready to deliver retirement

Published 12:09am Friday, January 24, 2014

NATCHEZ — Dr. Thomas Purvis will miss the connection with patients he has built in the last 46 years as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Natchez.

Those connections are the same reason Purvis can’t get through a trip to the grocery store without at least one person stopping him in the aisles.

“I can barely walk through Walmart without hearing, ‘Do you remember me? You delivered my baby,’” Purvis said, laughing. “I used to fake it at first and tell them all, ‘Yes,’ but after having delivered 7,000 (babies), honestly, you kind of lose track.”

Purvis officially retired on Dec. 31 from the Natchez Medical Foundation OB/GYN Clinic after 46 years of service to the community.

Purvis came to Natchez in 1968 after Dr. William Godfrey recruited him into the practice.

For a majority of the time the two worked together, Purvis said each doctor averaged delivering nearly 35 babies a month.

“We worked our cans off,” Purvis said. “Once you get into second generations, it becomes a little hard to remember everyone.”

Purvis, 75, said several factors played into his decision to retire, including his age and changes to the medical profession he felt were separating him from his patients.

“Nowadays, doctors spend half the time staring at a laptop because of all the computerized records,” Purvis said. “You lose that connection with your patients when you spend all your time typing on a computer.”

But the recent medical changes can’t overshadow the 46 years of memories Purvis amassed during his time in Natchez.

“It’s been a good run,” Purvis said. “Natchez is just such a wonderful place to live.”

NRMC Chief Executive Officer Donny Rentfro said saying goodbye to Purvis won’t be any easy task for hospital officials.

“I think he will be missed by all the administration here and certainly all of his patients that he’s treated over the years,” Rentfro said. “He’s just contributed so much that’s invaluable.”

Purvis said he’ll continue dealing with some paperwork for a few patients in the next few weeks until he can completely disconnect from the office.

Retirement for Purvis entails tending to his eight acres of yard he maintains at his U.S. 61 South house, fishing in his two ponds and maintaining a vegetable garden that is yielding cauliflower, lettuce and broccoli, among other things.

“There’s plenty to do,” Purvis said. “All I can say is that it’s been a good ride.”