As a mother, grandmother, pastor and teaching assistant to kindergarteners and first graders, Debra Smith-Judd knows a thing or two about compassion, and she certainly identifies that in her primary care physician, Ann Marie Richards, M.D., at FirstHealth Family Medicine - Pinehurst. In an interview with Smith-Judd, she shared how much Dr. Richards means to her and how their relationship has resulted in Smith-Judd’s best health as an adult.
“I’ve been seeing Dr. Richards since December 2017 after my surgeon recommended her. The very first thing you notice about Dr. Richards is how personable she is. She shook my hand at the first meeting, but now we hug, because we’re excited to see each other! That tells me she understands the psychology of touch and personal relationships.
“Additionally, she’s absolutely on top of everything. She’s very serious about her patients’ health and invests not only her medical knowledge, but her whole being, in her work. She’s very clear about how she’s going to be there with you through the duration of your health journey.
“To get me in the best health possible, we laid out a plan. We looked at my medications and determined which ones to get me off of. Part of that plan was weight loss, so I asked her about becoming vegetarian. She just about went through the roof – in a good way! Also, I had already researched bariatric surgery for weight loss and when I mentioned it, we discussed at length and at the end, she said, ‘well, Miss Debbie, if anyone can do it, it would be you.’ She was on top of that, too, working hand-in-hand with Dr. Washington, my bariatric surgeon. She made sure I knew what was going on throughout the process, and she didn’t miss a step.
“I had the bariatric surgery in October 2018 and have lost 64 pounds so far. I was in a size 24-26 and now I’m in a 16. I once took eight or nine pills a day and now I take only four. It’s wonderful!
“Next time I see Dr. Richards, I want to surprise her with 20 more pounds gone. After that, my goals are to lose 40 more pounds and eliminate two more pills. Every day I look in the mirror and just say, wow! And with all the fruits and vegetables I eat every day, I’m never hungry!
“Dr. Richards once told me, ‘We are partners together working to make sure every health care avenue is carefully walked to ensure you have the best health possible.’ I always know and trust that she will give me her best advice – always. What really ‘flies my kite’ is that since working with Dr. Richards, I am in the best health that I’ve ever been in my 65 years of living.
“Dr. Richards is the best doctor that I call my friend, or maybe I should say she is the best friend I’ve ever called my doctor. She understands me, and I’m so grateful to have her as my health care cheerleader.”
When asked about Smith-Judd, Dr. Richards said, “It’s a joy to partner with Miss Debbie on her health care journey. We make a good team.”
A practitioner at FirstHealth Family Medicine – Pinehurst since it opened in October 2017, Dr. Richards cares for individual patients like Smith-Judd as well as entire families, from the youngest child to grandparents. “In high school I worked for two doctors in my hometown who really took the time to know their patients on a personal level. They knew the patient’s family, the names of their children and pets, how they lived, what was important to them and what their values were. The passion and dedication that these doctors demonstrated in caring for their patients and families inspired me to do the same and was what drove me to pursue family medicine.”
FirstHealth Family Medicine – Pinehurst, located at 150 Ivey Lane in Pinehurst at the Harris Teeter Shopping Center, is accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call (910) 215-5210.