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New doctor feels at home
11.11 dr. cornwell
Dr. James Cornwell - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

What drew Dr. James Cornwell to leave suburban Atlanta and open his practice in Springfield? The answer is simple.

“The people,” he said. “I know it sounds trite, but it is true.”

Effingham Hospital Administrator Norma Jean Morgan said adding Dr. Cornwell to the hospital is just a part of the strategic plan to recruit more physicians.

“We are excited about having a new physician,” she said. “We hope to recruit as many as three next year. When you have so many people and businesses coming this way, we’re trying to do our part to get primary care physicians.”

Dr. Cornwell had five contracts to consider when he decided it was time to leave Powder Springs, northwest of Atlanta in Cobb County. He also was being courted by Ellijay, Fitzgerald and Emory’s network in Atlanta.

He said he was struck by the community and the people he met while visiting Effingham, especially the dedication of the people at Effingham Hospital.

“I just fell in love with it,” Dr Cornwell said.

Aside from six weeks of training at Tufts University in Boston and in Japan, Dr. Cornwell is 100 percent Georgian.

Born in Austell, he received his bachelor’s degree from West Georgia College and later his master’s from the State University of West Georgia. He’s been a certified emergency medical technician, certified cardiac technician and registered respiratory therapist.

Dr. Cornwell received his medical degree from Mercer University in Macon and completed three years of residency at Floyd Medical Center in Rome.

Dr. Cornwell is board certified in family medicine, which is akin to a general practitioner, but requires much more training and certification.

“A lot of people think of family medicine as a general practitioner,” he said. “We’re proud to carry on that heritage, but it’s so much more. General practitioners usually don’t do three years of residency. Family medicine is a board certified-specialty, just like the other specialties. We see them from newborns all the way through.”

Family medicine doctors also are certified to perform deliveries, and Dr. Cornwell has done more than 300, though he expects local obstetricians and gynecologists to perform the bulk of those.

“I’ve got plenty to do,” he said.

Dr. Cornwell had to give his previous employer a 90-day notice he would not be returning and in that time, the hospital got him a space, using a building adjacent to the hospital.

Cornwell’s wife Cheryl is a registered nurse and they have two children, Amy, 21, and David, 13.

Morgan said Dr. Cornwell expressed an interest in seeing something other than concrete, leading him to look elsewhere when his contract with WellStar Physicians Group was up. He knew he had found the right place when he visited the annual Salzburger Labor Day event.

“We sure hope it turns out to be one of the most outstanding things we’ve done in a while,” she said. “He’s already got some folks lined up as patients. It takes a while to grow a practice, but they do have some folks scheduled and they are getting calls.”