Brookhaven physician retires after 25 years in family practice
Retirement from any profession means the end of an era as a person walks away from work, daily duties, and projects. But, for some doctors, it can be a bit different. When they retire, physicians leave hundreds of living projects — their patients.
After 25 years of practicing family medicine in Brookhaven, 59-year-old Dr. Kyle Bateman finished seeing the last patient in his office this week. Receiving his own gift of perhaps a more simple life of travel and more time with family, Bateman said he will miss getting to know patients and their families the most.
“I will miss seeing my patients,” he said. “When I get into the exam room, I love to visit with them and get to know their family members.”
But, Bateman’s own family is large enough to keep him busy in retirement. Married 37 years to his wife, Macie, they have four grown children — Holly, Megan, Brittany and Scotty. Among those with spouses, they also have four grandchildren — Alli, Evie, Adam and Trase.
“I am looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren,” he said. “I hope to travel with my wife both in the United States and abroad. We are even thinking about getting an RV.”
Bateman is no stranger to travel — even living — overseas. He was born at the Ashiya Air Force Base in Japan. His father was in the military there so his family moved around a lot growing up. In 1976, Bateman graduated from Tabb High School in Virginia. He then graduated from Mississippi State University in 1980 and, later, the University of Mississippi Medical School in 1984. Bateman completed his residency in the Navy and was stationed in Pensacola, Florida. His work during the Navy gave him some of the best moments of his career.
“There have been many great moments, but during my residency with the Navy, I was able to deliver many babies. It is a miracle to see a new life being brought into the world,” he said.
Then, Bateman moved to Guam for two years before returning home to Mississippi in 1992, where he established his family medicine practice in Brookhaven. Bateman’s plans to become a doctor stemmed from his own experiences as a patient.
“When I was a kid, I stayed in the ER getting sewn up because I was a pretty active little boy. When I got older and made good grades, my teachers and parents encouraged me to get into the medical field. The more I looked into it, the more I thought it would be a good career for me,” he said.
After working in hospitals as an orderly, Bateman narrowed down his focus to the field of family medicine. As he cleaned rooms and helped care for patients, he enjoyed watching other family practice doctors. Then, while working with family practice doctors in Collins, he learned even more about what they did and appreciated the fact that they treated all ages and all areas of the body.
“I wanted to do a little bit of everything, so family practice was a good fit,” he said.
Jeraldine Lee has been a patient of Bateman’s for more than 20 years. She has remained his patient all these years because of his faith, patience and skill.
“He is a God-fearing, Christian man,” Lee said. “He prayed with me whenever I was feeling defeated and needed to be uplifted. He was very patient to always answer all of my questions and explain carefully when I did not understand something. He is such a good doctor.”
Also a long-time patient, Steve Jones has been going to see Bateman for the past six years. Jones agrees that Bateman is a very personal doctor with attention to detail.
“If he had concerns about my health or any test results, he would move my checkups closer together to be sure any issues were not getting out of control. He is a doctor who loves his community and his family, and he carried that same love to his patients,” Jones said.
His daughter, Megan Bateman Case, who also taught with now-retired Jones, said her father’s love and caring for his surrounding community was an effective example of selflessness.
“My dad’s career has been such a ministry,” Case said. “He has touched so many lives. I am thankful for him showing me how to love this community through his profession.”
Bateman’s long-time office manager, Sheila Day, said all of his employees were always made to feel like family as well. The quality she most admires about Bateman is his ability to be a confidant and offer counsel.
“You can tell him anything from your heart and know he is listening closely to figure out the best way to be of help,” Day said. “It may be medical or personal, I know anything he was told was never revealed to anyone else.”
Day said the qualities most missed about Bateman by his patients will be his personal investment in their health, his ability to treat them in a way that made them each feel special. His own wife stated such attributes when she summed up what kind of doctor her husband is.
“Compassion, knowledge of his craft, professionalism, humility and a passion for medicine,” Macie Bateman said. “That is what kind of man he is.”
For the next year or two, during retirement, Bateman plans to continue to work with the mental health facilities that he has been assisting for the past 15 years. As he closes the doors on his office practice, he will resume his duties as medical director for various businesses around town. Then, there is the travelling to pursue as well as returning to golf. After a long, fulfilling career, Bateman offers some advice to anyone searching to find their professional calling.
“You can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything,” he said. “Chase your dreams. If something is in your heart and God is leading you in a direction, do whatever it takes to achieve it.”
Story by JoAnna Sproles. Brookhaven High School student Rebecca Peavey contributed to this article.