Well-known family medicine doctor retiring after 59 years of service in Marksville

Avoyelles Parish Dr. Edmond Kalifey is retiring on Saturday, May 1.
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 2:16 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:59 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A familiar face in Cenla is putting down his stethoscope to spend more time with family. Well-known family medicine doctor Edmond Kalifey is retiring at the end of the week.

KALB sat down with him to talk about his 59 year career in Avoyelles Parish.

When you meet Dr. Edmond Kalifey, or if you’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, you can’t help but smile.

The man with a bigger-than-life personality is one of the few doctors in Avoyelles Parish, and has been practicing for quite possibly the longest.

“We’re all in an underserved area, and it’s very hard to get physicians to come to a small area. Those of us that have been working have just been working harder.”

Avoyelles Parish Family Medicine Doctor, Edmond Kalifey

He’s been treating patients in Avoyelles Parish since the mid 1900s.

“Some of these patients I’ve been treating in some of the places since I first came to Marksville, which was in the 1960′s. I’ve treated four or five generations,” Kalifey said.

The story of why he came to Avoyelles Parish is one of a kind.

“I was finishing up a weekend of work at what’s now LSU-Shreveport and there was a notice on the bulletin board. It said wanted physician for one month in Marksville, Louisiana. I said Marksville, that’s a good place to go fishing,” Kalifey said.

Ultimately, he decided to stay for an unbelievable total of 59 years practicing medicine.

“I came here for a month and I was with a group of physicians. They enjoyed having an extra doctor to take night calls, so I stayed another month, and another month, and here I am 59 years later.”

Avoyelles Parish Family Medicine Doctor, Edmond Kalifey

The doctor started his career in Shreveport, where he worked for one year. Ever since, he’s called Marksville home.

“I live round-trip 25 miles from here and I figure that at the minimum, over the 48 years, I’ve traveled 30 plus thousand miles coming here,” Kalifey said.

Kalifey first opened up his own practice in the 60′s, while also doing nursing home work, often seven days a week.

“It fulfilled everything I wanted to do as a family doctor,” he said.

In 2008, he switched to practicing full-time home based care at six retirement homes, including Oak Haven Community Care Center in Center Point. Kalifey said he’s still in disbelief he’s actually retiring.

He’s experienced a lot over the last almost six decades, including an impromptu water baptism in the 60′s.

“The nurses handed me a bottle of holy water and said you baptize the baby and this is something I’ve never done,” said Kalifey.

The doctor has also witnessed the change of medicine, including the patient, doctor relationship.

“Years ago, we were kind of part of the family and you treated patients really as part of your family,” Kalifey said.

He doesn’t want future doctors to forget the importance of hands-on medicine.

“There’s no substitute for hands on medicine, examining the patients yourself, listening to them and getting to know a lot about them, rather than looking at a computer and checking boxes.”

Avoyelles Parish Family Medicine Doctor, Edmond Kalifey

Kalifey has also witness the COVID-19 pandemic that’s rocked the entire world.

“I want to especially thank the nursing homes where I’ve had close contact for the great job they did battling the pandemic day and night and working short handed. Some of the staff became ill and had to stay at home and we lost a lot of residents too. It was quite a traumatic experience,” Kalifey said.

Through it all, Kalifey said he’s thankful for the entire experience.

“Everyone asks me would you do it again and I said in a heartbeat, I would be a family doctor again.”

Avoyelles Parish Family Medicine Doctor, Edmond Kalifey

He said he wouldn’t change the past 59 years for the world.

“I feel as though when I put my head down on the pillow at night that I gave it the best that I could do, and I’m happy I was able to do what I did.”

Avoyelles Parish Family Medicine Doctor, Edmond Kalifey

Post retirement, Kalifey said he’s going to first take a deep breath and relax, as he’s been living by the phone for the past 60 years.

He plans to spend more time with family, do some yard work and clean around his home, as well as work with some health care facilities on a smaller scale.

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