Meet the man behind the mask: Dr. David Holcombe
Office of Public Health Region Six Medical Director has a unique background
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - He’s become the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in Central Louisiana, some may say our very own “Dr. Fauci.” The man behind the mask was born in California, graduating UC-Davis with a background in behavioral science and fine arts, and going on to study poultry science at the University of Florida. “I think you have to have a desire to serve and you can do that in any capacity,” says Holcombe. “I said well I’ll at least do something. If I can’t heal the sick, I can feed the hungry.”
Holcombe spent four years applying to medical schools to no avail due to his unusual academic background. “I said, I can do this elsewhere.” However, he spoke French fluently, so he took his talents to the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium where he completed six grueling years of medical studies in French. While there he taught folk dancing classes on the side for extra cash, and that’s where he met his wife Nicole.
After completing his residency in internal medicine with a Johns Hopkins affiliated clinic in Baltimore, the pair arrived with their three sons in Cenla in 1986. “Let’s go to someplace that really needs doctors because there’s a lot of sick people, so Louisiana is good, and where everybody speaks French so I can use my French.” Holcombe worked as a doctor in the private sector before taking over as the Region 6 medical director for the Office of Public Health in 2007. “At least I can feel that I’m doing something for a population that is essentially underserved.”
In addition to his public healthcare work, Holcombe is also an avid member of the arts community. He’s published 12 books, written numerous plays, and uses art as a creative outlet. “I’ve been told that I’m too much of an artist to be a good doctor but too much of a doctor to be a good artist,” says Holcombe.
He and Nicole have also continued their eastern European dancing within Cenla’s Czech community. Now at the age of 70, Holcombe is leading the charge against COVID-19 in Central Louisiana with no plans to slow down. “My wife said that I cannot retire because she said if I retire, she will kill me,” he laughs.
Holcombe says his immediate goal is to help Cenla become protected from COVID-19 as soon as a vaccination is available. After that, he and his wife have plans to visit family and hope to go on a big adventure. “I would like to sail up the Nile and see the pyramids and hopefully that will happen one day.”
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