The first member of the physician team which Wadley Regional Medical Center will put into place here has begun practice in Hope.

The first member of the physician team which Wadley Regional Medical Center will put into place here has begun practice in Hope. Dr. Poongodhai Ramachandran, known informally as Dr. Ram (pronounced Rahm), opened her practice in cardiology at Wadley Regional Medical Center at Hope on Monday. Dr. Ram will maintain office hours in Hope on Mondays and Thursdays, and at other times in special circumstances. “I just started with the Wadley system in Texarkana on September 1,” Dr. Ram said in a Monday interview. “I moved here from Fort Worth; and, of course, I had a Texas license, but did not have an Arkansas license; which is why I couldn't start until today.” Dr. Ram is familiar with small town life and medical practice, having practiced in Stephenville and Granbury, Texas, since 2004. She has conducted most of her medical practice in the United States, beginning in Eau Claire, Wis., in 2000 and continuing in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2002, before moving to Texas. “I am from Southern India,” she said. “I am married, and I have two children; they are ages fifteen and thirteen.” Medical practice is not typical of Dr. Ram's family, although, she notes that science-based careers are common in her extended family. “My dad is a nuclear physicist, and I have an uncle who is a biochemist,” she said. Medicine, then, was a natural choice for Dr. Ram, she notes. “I think I learned medicine because I liked science; and, that made me think of the way I wanted to go,” she explained. “But, I didn't want to do lab research. I liked people, and that is what brought me to medicine.” Trained in India, Dr. Ram graduated with her MD from the University of Madras and took clinical studies there in coronary care and anesthesiology from 1989-1991. She took an observership in internal medicine at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilington, N.C. In 1993-1994, and completed her internship at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1994-1995, before completing residency at Mercy Hospital the following year. She accepted a fellowship in cardiovascular disease study at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, Shadyside Hospital, from 1997-2000. “When I did my internal medicine, there was so much happening in cardiology; new techniques and medical management, so compared to all the other specialties, cardiology was moving in terms of diagnostics and testing,” Dr. Ram said. “There was so much happening that made me feel like we need not just do what we can to make the patient well.” She said cardiology was on the cutting edge of medical treatment, and that interested her. Her family life has played a part in Dr. Ram's exposure to more of the field as it is practiced across the United States, she said. “My husband's job took us to the Midwest, and we moved to Wisconsin; but, the weather was just too cold,” she quipped. “I'm too used to hot weather.” Finding medical practice in California more constrained than in the Midwest or rural America, the family moved to Texas, and is in the process of relocating to Texarkana from the Fort Worth area. “It seemed like the HMOs were simply dictating what you could do for your patients,” Dr. Ram said. “I was a solo cardiologist; but, with everything that is happening in healthcare, I decided it was better to be part of a larger practice.” Her Hope practice will be maintained from offices at the Wadley Regional Medical Center at Hope on Mondays and Thursdays. “I do some consults in the hospital, right now,” she said. “Everything is done in Hope, whether outpatient or inpatient consultation. We will see how things go, for now, on Mondays and Thursdays. But, Texarkana is only a half-hour away, and we have created a nice understanding with the local physicians; so, if anything needs attention, we can facilitate a path where they can come to Texarkana to get the acute care taken care of, and where they can come back here and take care of their outpatient followup.” She will maintain a full office in Hope. “We are staring on Mondays and Thursdays, but hoping that it will grow into more,” Dr. Ram said. “Cardiology-wise, I will be the one here; but, there will be coverage, so that there will be someone on call.” A watercolor artist and runner in her spare time, Dr. Ram is excited about the opportunities for her leisure passions in Southwest Arkansas almost as much as her professional practice. “Exercise is my passion; but, I don't have enough time to do it,” she admitted. Dr. Ram's office may be contacted for appointments at 903-794-8820.