High Springs’ first pediatrician to open doors March 15
Sometimes it’s hard for a doctor like Nasir Ahmed to look back.
“I cannot explain, because if I explain I have to cry,” he said, remembering a West Virginia mother hugging her son, whose tiny chest moved only with the persuasion of a ventilator after a 2005 car crash.
For Ahmed, these types of memories span continents and cultures in his 30-year medical career. In Iran he has mended bleeding babies brought to him as victims of war zone blasts and the fragile hearts of their parents coping with post-war trauma. In Ireland Ahmed has helped cystic fibrosis children understand why they have trouble breathing and why other doctors said they may never live to be adults.
So after his career has crossed oceans and cultures Ahmed is now looking to the future by opening a practice in a solid city he can finally call home. Monday will mark the start of that future as he opens doors on his High Springs Pediatrics, the first of its kind to settle in the city.
“The people here, they have welcomed me and I want to be a part of their community because this will be my last home,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed’s practice at 210 NW First Avenue across from the city’s fire station will be a full-care pediatric clinic to serve children with all ailments and financial backgrounds. His office will provide for parents in Alachua County’s heartland communities who used to have to travel to Gainesville or Lake City for a pediatrician, he said.
“My idea is I don’t want any kids from this area to have to travel for help,” Ahmed said.
Although his office will be a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. practice, Ahmed will be a licensed pediatrician on-call 24 hours for the area. Noticing a lack of coverage for underprivileged children, Ahmed will also accept all types of insurance, including Medicaid.
“If any sick patient comes to my door, I will not refuse,” he said. “If I have to stay until 8 p.m. I will stay. I cannot turn away any sick baby.”
The six-room office will be equipped with areas for intravenous fluid transfusions, general exams and counseling for behavioral problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Ahmed said he will fill the area’s need for a specialized pediatrician, especially after the closing of the Alachua County Health Department’s High Springs Clinic in August.
Born in Bangladesh, Ahmed’s curiosity for medicine began while watching his father practice general medicine in their country that prized knowledgeable doctors. He went on to study at Bangladesh’s top medical school, Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, and graduated in 1980.
He left Bangladesh and practiced general medicine in Iran for 11 years where he treated victims of war zones that fled to his practice near Tehran for treatment. As often as treating injuries from bomb blasts, Ahmed acted as a counselor for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder victims dealing with family members killed in a bloody war.
While his office was a family practice, Ahmed saw about 30 percent of his patients were children, which sparked an interest to explore a future in pediatrics.
He went on to study in Ireland and received a diploma in children’s health from the National University of Ireland in 1993. Here he saw the country’s unique tendency for cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome patients and honed a new specialty for dealing with children with debilitating diseases.
“Each country is different, but problems are always there,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed spent the next few years traveling between England and Scotland as a family practitioner before he moved to New York with his wife and two sons in 1995.
In New York he began his pediatric training, which he later completed at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital in 2005. Looking for a way out of the bustling city of Morgantown, WV, Ahmed joined a family practice in Lake City in 2007.
But when he wandered to High Springs earlier this year to look for a place to build his own practice, he said he felt the city was a place he could finally settle his family permanently while filling a need he saw in the community.
Walking High Springs’ downtown streets and peering into vacant office windows, Ahmed spotted the name of a realtor turned City Commissioner, Dean Davis, plastered on real estate signs across the city. After calling Davis for help, it was Davis who Ahmed said would eventually convince him to build a pediatric office in the city.
“I saw Dean Davis’ name everywhere and he was really helpful to me,” Ahmed said. “I thought if everybody in High Springs was like Davis, it would be a good place for me.”
Now as Ahmed gets ready to open doors Monday, he said he hopes the community will accept him as he has accepted the diverse array of patients he has helped throughout his career. The doctor whose work spans from Asia and Europe to America said he’s just looking to be a part of the community that he pledges to help.