Washington and Lee alumnus Hughes Melton, Class of 1989, was named the 2011 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians this week at its Annual Scientific Assembly. The award goes to an outstanding American family physician who provides compassionate and comprehensive patient care and serves as a community role model — professionally and personally — to other physicians, residents, medical students and health professionals.
Hughes certainly fits the bill for the award. A facinating story on the AAFP website provides plenty of details about the amazing work that he is doing in Russell County, in southwest Virginia. In 2000, he started a practice with another family physician that they called C-Health, for Complete Health. It opened in a rented trailer in Lebanon, Va. Today, the clinic serves 18,000 area residents and occupies a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2006.
Although the clinic offers the full range of family medicine, Hughes was quick to realize that the area was being hit especially hard with substance abuse, and he has become known as an expert in the primary care treatment of addiction and chronic pain.
Among the special features of the clinic is its practice tithe fund, under which the clinic puts aside a portion of its profits to help needy community members pay their electric and fuel bills and cover the cost of food, shelter or medication. The tithe also supports mission partners in El Salvador.
Hughes began his work in rural Virginia after he left the Army, where he earned the Meritorious Service Medal for distinguished non-combat achievement in 2000. He went to medical school at the University of Virginia and did his residency in U.Va.’s Department of Family Medicine.