For the people of Athens and the students of Concord University, Athens Family Practice is the first resort when it comes to health care, as well as continuing a long tradition of localized health care.
Dr. Omar R. Kassem, who began his tenure at the practice on January 1, 2000, said, "We're a full practice which provides out-patient services for all age groups. If we have to refer anyone to (Princeton Community) Hospital, we use a hospitalist."
According to PCH Director of Marketing and Public Relations Richard Hypes. the tradition of medical care in Athens
dates back nearly 170 years.
Dr. James R. Vermillion, the first physician to serve the town of Athens, then known as Concord Church, moved to the area from Dublin, Virginia, around 1845. His grandson, Dr. Uriah Vermillion, had the longest continuous medical practice in Athens from 1917 to 1962, and functioned as the team doctor at Concord College for many of those years.
In 1975, Athens and the surrounding communities raised funds to establish a medical center on Vermillion Street. That facility was purchased by
Princeton Community Hospital Association, Inc.,
in 1995. PCH built a new structure – the current Athens Family Practice – in 1997.
Dr. Kassem is certified by the American Board of Family Practice and earned
his medical degree from the University of Tennessee for the Health Sciences, College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee.
"We take care of student health at Concord University," he said.
Asked what he likes best about his job, Kassem said, "I guess it's being able to provide service to people. Athens Family Practice takes both Medicare and Medicaid patients."
Kassem is joined at the clinic by physician assistant Natasha Comerose Barker,
a Virginia Tech graduate and a 1998 graduate of the College of West Virginia, who joined Athens Family Practice in 2007. Other team members include
Mary Lowe, LPN; Melinda Severt, LPN; Glenda Ford, office
manager; and Sharon Jones, assistant office manager.
"Our mission is to serve people of this area with the services and support of PCH," Kassem said.
The practice is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and takes its last patients around 4 p.m. Appointments get first priority, but walk-ins will be taken if time is available.
The practice is located on Vermillion St one block away from CU. The phone number is 304-384-7325
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