January 18, 2016 Edition

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Dr. Paul Vellozo (from left) was honored Saturday night for his service to Lawrence Health Services. With him are his wife, Charmaine, their daughter, Cherise, and Lawrence Health Services Interim Administrator Gary Sparks and his wife, Carol.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

LMHF honors Dr. Paul Vellozo

The Lawrence Memorial Health Foundation held its Winter Gala Saturday night at The Studio and honored Dr. Paul Vellozo as the 2016 Special Advocate for his service to the success of Lawrence Health Services.

Dr. Vellozo practices at Family Medical Center, which is owned and operated by Lawrence Health Services.

Lila Floyd, a member of the Lawrence Health Services Board, made the presentation.

"Over the last 20 plus years of his life, he has worked tirelessly to establish an internal medicine practice where he has provided excellent medical care to many in our community," said Floyd.

Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Paul Vellozo grew up in a city of over 10 million people. Memories of his early years include family picnics to the beaches of the Arabian Sea and great spicy seafood dishes.

His father was an office manager and worked several jobs to support their family. His mother, a homemaker, developed a strong reputation as an English and math coach in her community and spent part of her time tutoring others out of the family home.

Financially, his parents were not well off; however, his parents emphasized the importance of education as all of their children were expected to and did attend college.

Dr. Vellozo, who is one of eight children, described his family as very close-knit with religion being an important part of their lives.

His youngest brother is a Catholic priest, and this is a great source of pride for his family. His parents, to whom he feels he owes everything for their sacrifices, passed away two years ago after living in Toronto, Canada, for many years.

Dr. Vellozo and his six living siblings try to visit often and recently celebrated Christmas together in Jonesboro.

Vellozo lives in Jonesboro with his wife, Charmaine, and their daughter, Cherise. Charmaine has supported him by being by his side as they moved to a new country, started life again from scratch and while he worked long hours during his residency and in developing his practice.

"He feels fortunate to have her love and support as they recently completed 25 years of marriage," stated Floyd. "He describes Cherise as a delightful daughter, and he enjoys his time spent with her."

After completing medical school at Aga Khan Medical University in Pakistan, Vellozo came to the United States for a residency in internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Due to a deteriorating political situation in Pakistan at the time he completed his residency, he made the decision to stay in this country and seek employment.

Dr. Vellozo began making calls to small, rural hospitals in states bordering Texas. This led him to Lawrence Memorial Hospital in 1995. He has vivid memories of his first warm and welcoming conversations with LMH staff members, such as Barbara Eagan, former administrator Larry Morse and the late Dr. Ralph Joseph, who was an invaluable mentor and friend.

"Dr. Vellozo is quick to acknowledge and give much credit to the many wonderful employees and staff members who support him in his work each and every day," Floyd said.

Since the beginning of his medical practice, Dr. Vellozo has had a keen interest in preventing and controlling diabetes and obesity by following a healthy diet and lifestyle, and he practices what he preaches. Exercise and healthy eating are important to him and has led him to two of his greatest passions, racquet sports and gardening.

Dr. Vellozo developed a diabetes education program for the hospital and speaks annually at the LMHF Diabetes Awareness Dinner. He has also developed an interest in sleep medicine and hospice/palliative medicine and obtained certification in both.

Dr. Vellozo shared these comments, "I feel happy and privileged to have a traditional type of medical practice in Walnut Ridge ... Truly, I depend a lot on a lot of highly dedicated, compassionate, wonderful staff and nurses at the clinic, hospital and nursing home. My life would be infinitely harder without these kind and special people assisting and supporting me."

"I feel blessed every day. I love my patients, many of whom constantly bring in gifts of garden produce or cakes or other treats. It seems improbable that I would end up in a community 8,000 miles from where I was born, but I really feel at home in Walnut Ridge," he said.

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