Dr. Raymond Girnys says he had to practice "McDonald's medicine" in New York, moving patients through quickly without getting to know them.

Now, at Delta Surgical Clinic in Greenwood, he can treat patients as individuals and not numbers.

In Greenwood, "the physicians know their patients," he said. "And all the physicians that I've met and I've worked with here are very capable, conscientious and caring."

The friendliness of a small town appeals to him, too.

"The thing that I enjoy about Greenwood is that you talk to everybody and look them in the eye.

'In New York, you can't," he said. With a laugh, he added, "In fact, that would probably be a reason for an argument if you looked somebody straight in the eye and had a conversation."

Girnys, 49, has lived in Greenwood for about a month and worked at the clinic for about two weeks. He joined Dr. Keith Thompson at the clinic.

Girnys was born and reared in New York City. He earned a degree from Fordham University and a medical degree from St. George's Medical School in Grenada, the West Indies.

He worked at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn for 25 years. But his practice became very expensive. Malpractice insurance rates in New York have doubled within the last four years, he said. The high office expenses, low reimbursements and hectic pace also frustrated him.

For more than two years, he had looked to relocate to a place in the South with tort reform. The Mississippi Legislature approved limits on civil lawsuits in 2004, including a cap on pain-and-suffering damages for medical malpractice cases.

As president of the medical staff in Brooklyn, Girnys studied other states' tort reform extensively, looking for measures that New York could copy.

He said that if insurance costs are held down in Mississippi, it will be easier to recruit doctors from other places. They can bring new techniques and perspectives while learning from doctors here, he said.

"You have good practicing physicians - day-to-day people who can take care of people," he said. "And those are the people who are getting squeezed out in the North."

He looked at places in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas as well as Mississippi.

Before his interviews, he had never visited Mississippi. But after just a few visits, Greenwood felt like home to him.

"The people have been phenomenal," he said. "They have been very, very friendly, very open, very hospitable."

The computer facilities and other cutting-edge technology at Greenwood Leflore Hospital impressed him, as did the quick turnaround time for reports. "You would assume that it would be more advanced in New York, but it's not," he said.

As an example, he cited a type of MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, that is performed on the liver. The test uses a magnetic field and radio wave energy to provide pictures of the organ.

In New York, MRIs don't run continuously unless they have a full day's work, but Greenwood Leflore Hospital can do tests when needed, even late at night. The liver test is very specialized, but the hospital can perform it and provide a report within an hour, he said - adding, "In New York, it would probably take a day or two."

He also has visited affiliated clinics in such sites as Lexington, Kil-michael, Itta Bena and Cleveland to introduce himself. He came away impressed with the staffs and the loyalty of the patients.

"Every place I went to was packed full of patients," he said.

Girnys said his wife, Barbara, who is still teaching in New York, will move to Mississippi after Thanksgiving.

They have two sons. One, Raymond, is studying history at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, and the other, Matthew, is studying engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Girnys said he hopes to practice in Greenwood for a long time.

Recognizing Mississippi's high rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, he wants to get involved in health education. He is willing to speak to local groups on these topics and other health issues.

In New York, he also coached baseball and served as medical director for a youth athletic association, and he would like to participate in youth organizations in some capacity here.

He already has scouted neighboring cities, including Memphis, Jackson, Greenville, Grenada and Vicksburg, taking a different route home each time.

The traffic in Mississippi definitely is an improvement over New York, he said. "To get to Jackson airport probably takes me the same amount of time as it would be to get to Kennedy airport from my house," he said. "The only difference is Jackson airport is about 100 miles, and Kennedy airport is about 20."

Girnys said he surprised some of his New York colleagues by leaving after 25 years. But, he said, "they were just sorry that they didn't have the courage to do it themselves.

"And if this works out, we may have an influx of a lot of people from Brooklyn," he laughed.

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