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A New Orleans Doctor in the House
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A New Orleans Doctor in the House


NPR's Noah Adams is back from a three week stay in New Orleans. And yes, he did get to a couple of Mardi Gras parades and heard some music and downed some great food. He also saw much of the other, post-Katrina side of the city.

Here's a story from his Reporter's Notebook about someone he met.

NOAH ADAMS: They said do a story about how hard it is for people to find a doctor in New Orleans. And I did. And along the way, a friend gave me the number of an emergency room resident. I made that call. Sure we can talk, he said. Come over Saturday morning.

Dr. RICHARD VINROOT, JR. (Resident): My name is Richard Vinroot, Jr. And I work for LSU hospital system, Charity Hospital. I'm a third-year resident in emergency medicine.

ADAMS: He served me Tunisian coffee. Although he doesn't drink coffee himself, he's spinning most of the time from his work. He just finished a 12-hour night. Dr. Vinroot gave me a business card with raised printing. He's carefully about including the Jr. in his name.

He stayed in New Orleans during the storm, wants to be here now. And he told me about his father, who was a lawyer and married, but then he had a friend killed in Vietnam and decided to go there himself.

Dr. VINROOT, JR.: And my dad talked about Vietnam. He never talked like he was truly affected. And I think it's because he made the choice to stay there. And I think the storm for me was the same thing. I mean I have all these patients that have had these terrible experiences. Because I think they were stuck here, forced to stay. I kind of chose to stay.

ADAMS: Richard Vinroot thinks New Orleans these days is a great place to learn. He'll be a better doctor. And he likes the people, and his little house on Constance Street, not far from the river, enough room for a single person who works most of the time anyway. He's got a lovely collection of folk art from countries where he's been and he could sign up with Doctors Without Borders or do something but tropical medicine. But for now he's happy coming home tired in his blue scrubs and white lab coat.

The neighborhood people come to his door. And that reminds him of his great grandfather, a small town doctor back in North Carolina.

Dr. VINROOT, JR.: I haven't had anybody pay me with chickens or anything lately. But they do they want to come and thank me for checking the pressure and giving them a suggestion or two.

ADAMS: Just come and knock on your door?

Dr. VINROOT, JR.: All the time. I get knocks usually until 11:30 at night. And sometimes it's not that. Sometimes they just want to come in and ask for a beer.

ADAMS: After all, Dr. Richard Vinroot, Jr. might conclude it is New Orleans.

NEARY: NPR's Noah Adams.

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