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Dr. Stephen Chandler
Dr. Stephen Chandler

Dr. Stephen Chandler
‘He doesn’t tell you no,’ hospital foundation president says of honoree

By Jay Wilson
DAILY Staff Writer · 340-2449

In his 22 years as an internal medicine specialist, Dr. Steven C. Chandler has developed a personal wellness philosophy.

He says good health requires physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. He talks with, listens to and sometimes prays with or for his patients.

"If one of those is missing, you're going to be sick," Chandler said.

He has spent his medical career in the city he calls "home," treating a patient's mind, body and soul. For his caring nature and genuine concern of the community, Chandler will receive the John A. Caddell Award at Gala XXI on Dec. 9. The black-tie dinner dance is a fund-raiser for Decatur General Hospital, sponsored by the hospital foundation.

"He doesn't tell you no," Foundation President Trudy Grisham said. "He just wants to do for others."

She said 10 former foundation trustees — all Caddell Award recipients — selected Chandler for the award.

Grisham described him as a committed community member, a dedicated physician and a supportive asset. She said he was a foundation board member from 1992 to 1999, serving on its Executive Committee almost every year. In 1998, that committee elected him chairman. He served as director-at-large from 1999 to 2004.

Chandler was secretary of Decatur General's medical staff, chairman of its clinical review committee and two-time chief of the medical department. Like other Caddell Award honorees, he would rather talk about anything but himself. He did get excited about one of his achievements.

"I'm most proud of the Community Free Clinic," Chandler said. The clinic is a foundation project created to provide medical care to the area's less fortunate.

Grisham said he donates his time and medical skills to the clinic. Chandler, a founding board member, began his involvement with the clinic in 2002.

"He closes his office at 5 p.m., and at 5:15, he's at the free clinic where he'll see about 20 patients," Grisham said. "That's a commitment."

Grisham said Chandler does this a couple of times each month. He also coordinates Beltline Church of Christ's Grief Support Group. He started it in 1992 and led the church's grief recovery support from 1991 to 2002.

Grisham said she admires Chandler for his devotion to patients. She's overheard him in the hospital halls, talking on the phone to a patient's family. If he misses a family's hospital visit, he calls to update them on a loved one's condition.

Chandler is a Decatur native. He left after graduating Decatur High School but only to attend The University of Alabama.

Chandler graduated magna cum laude in 1976 with a bachelor's of science degree in chemistry. He started medical school, attending The University of Alabama at Birmingham, that same year.

In 1980, he earned his medical doctor degree and spent the next three years as a resident-in-training at Carraway Methodist Medical Center, Birmingham. He opened his Decatur practice in 1983.

Decatur General did not have the facility that it does today, Chandler said. He said physicians began moving to town because there are plenty of patients for all. Chandler said the hospital has added technology since he first arrived. CAT scans, MRIs and numerous other tools have improved capabilities.

Today the hospital has cardiologists who perform open-heart surgery. He said he refers patients locally now, allowing him to remain active with their treatment. This is much more difficult if the patient travels to Birmingham, to another state or even Huntsville.

As chairman of the hospital's continuing medical education committee, Chandler directed the hospital's accreditation process. The Medical Association of the State of Alabama accredited Decatur General for continuing medical education.

Accreditation like this brings more specialties and specialists. Chandler was directly involved in bringing the Women's Center, open-heart surgery and various other specialties.

He helped found Hospice of Morgan County, serving as a charter board member and actively participating as Hospice Medical Director from 1985-87 and from 1988-89.

Chandler, son of Cecil Chandler and the late Faye Chandler, and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, Katie and Stephen.

Gala XXI is Dec. 9 at Decatur Country Club. If you would like to attend but have not received an invitation, call Decatur General Foundation at 341-2187. Cost is $150 per person.

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