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Best of Vicksburg

John Storey wins Best Pharmacist in Best of Vicksburg



(photo by David Day)

In December 2000, John Storey took over Battlefield Drug in Vicksburg. For the past 20 years, he and his team have worked hard to provide Vicksburg residents with the medicines they need.

Storey attributes his success to his friendly, welcoming team and their commitment to customers. Following up with customers between visits and developing a relationship with their doctors are just a couple of the things that set them apart from the competition.

“It’s not a hard thing it get right,” Storey said. “It’s just like a bar or restaurant or anything — you get to know your customers. It’s all about service … I like to have a personal rapport.”

After just a couple of visits to his pharmacy, Storey knows what you want and how you want it, and that is what he delivers.

“People like normalcy and dependency in their pharmacy, they like to know what to expect,” he said.

On any given day, Battlefield Drug fills around 800 prescriptions. That averages to more than 1 each minute that is filled correctly, checked for accuracy and delivered on time.

“It’s a neat trick,” Storey said with a grin.

Best of Vicksburg

Shelley Roberts wins Best Nurse in Best of Vicksburg



(photo by David Day)

Shelley Roberts is a licensed practical nurse who has been working for Dr. Geri Weiland for three decades. Working with the same doctor for 30 years gives them a strong platform from which to provide the best possible care for their patients.

They started out at the Street Clinic and then moved to Merit Health River Region. In that time, she’s been able to see countless patients grow up, and she has even cared for their children.

“We have been compared to Lucy and Ethel quite a few times,” Roberts said of her relationship with Dr. Weiland.

Roberts said she loves all her patients, but the most rewarding part of her job is to be able to care for the many disabled patients that visit the clinic.

“To see them do something that they didn’t know they could do, or being able to take care of them when they can’t take care of themselves … that is what sticks out the most,” she said.

Roberts was born and raised in Vicksburg and graduated from Warren Central High School and Hinds Community College in 1990. She said her counselor at Hinds, Mr. Thomas, helped her choose the field of nursing.

Roberts is married with two children of her own and her family is still growing. Her grandson is just a year old, and the family is welcoming a second grandchild in March.

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Best of Vicksburg

Dr. Debbie Smith wins Best Pediatrician in Best of Vicksburg 2020



Dr. Debbie Smith (photo by David Day)

Most folks call her Dr. Debbie.

Pediatrician Dr. Deborah Smith has been in Vicksburg for 39 years — “since July of 1981,” she said.

Originally from Brownsville, Tennessee, about 60 miles northeast of Memphis, Smith did her undergraduate work at the University of Mississippi and went on to medical school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she also completed her residency.

Smith was planning to stay in the Nashville area to practice but came to Vicksburg “on a lark” to help the Sisters of Mercy update their nursery at Mercy Hospital. “Neonatology was a new field at the time,” she said, and the sisters needed help in updating their facilities.

Over the years, Smith has seen her patients grow up and bring her their children for care.

“I have a few third generations (of patients),” she said, “not very many, but a few — lots of second generations.”

“It’s fun,” Smith added. “If the kids weren’t fun, you wouldn’t keep doing it. The nice thing about it is that you already know a lot of the family history already in your head — more than what’s on the paper, essentially. … It’s fun to watch them grow up.”

In her practice, she sees children from birth to age 19. “We do kick ’em out age 19, and they have to go see a real doctor,” she said.

Smith had difficulty coming up with just one most memorable experience. What has stuck with her are the patients who were very sick and ended up doing well, patients who went into medicine — “You hope you had some part in that,” she said — and patients who were afraid and “ended up loving you”.

She’s also enjoyed seeing pediatrics evolve over the years, from being reactive and only seeing patients when they were sick to being more proactive in preventing illnesses through vaccinations and doing the right things.

“I tell patients that the purpose of a pediatrician is to put themselves out of business,” she said.

“Part of our job as pediatricians is to educate new mothers, old mothers (and) grandparents on what we expect as their children grow up, and I think that’s a big part of the pediatrician’s role,” Smith added. “It’s not just about taking care of them when they’re sick.”

Smith has never been married and has no children, although she has a menagerie of dogs, cats and, at one time, horses. She considers her patients her children, in a way, although she lets their ‘real’ parents give them all breakfast, as she told one little boy who asked about the photos on her wall.

“I think the fun part of pediatrics is kids,” she said. “Generally, they may get sick quickly, they get well quickly, and there’s just so much reward in seeing them grow up.”

Her practice has not been without challenges. Right now, the biggest of those is COVID-19. Smith is a firm believer in wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing. “We’re learning to deal with it,” she said.

Smith has no plans to retire, and says she’ll stick with it “as long as it’s fun, and it usually is… and as long as my knees hold out.”

Don’t forget to cast your votes for the Best in Pets in October! Every month VDN will have a new category to highlight the professionals that serve our community on our Cast Your Vote page.

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Best of Vicksburg

Dr. Thomas Houseal wins Best Chiropractor in Best of Vicksburg 2020



(photo by David Day)

Dr. Thomas Houseal has been a chiropractor since 1976, 43 years.

“I’ve been throughout the entire state, working for different doctors until I opened my own place here 21 years ago,” he said. His clinic, New Health Chiropractic Center, is located at 1825 North Frontage Road.

Originally from Davenport, Iowa, Houseal said his coming to Mississippi, and eventually Vicksburg, was a matter of fate.

“It was just meant to be,” he said. “Everything, every step was in order.”

Houseal met his wife, Lucy, in Hattiesburg just before he moved to Booneville.

“We had a six- or eight-month long-distance relationship,” he said. “I called her every night at the same time.”

The couple married Oct. 5, 1996. She works alongside her husband at the clinic.

“We sort of designated her the personal injury specialist,” Houseal said, adding that she follows up with patients to find out how they’re doing.

Holly, the clinic’s front-desk person, has been there for 14 years. “She’s a great asset,” he said.

While many people associate chiropractic only with back problems, Houseal indicated that the practice has far reaching implications for the entire body.

“My favorite case to get my hands on are headache cases because they respond so well to chiropractic,” he said.

Chiropractors perform adjustments to the spine or other parts of the body with the goals of correcting alignment problems, easing pain and supporting the body’s natural ability to heal itself, according the

“My miracle case was a 3-year-old child that had asthma, Houseal said. “The parents brought him in because they were exhausted because he was on breathing treatments. We found out through exam and X-rays that he had a misalignment in the mid-back area, and those nerves go to the lungs. So, we did what we did, and we found he was a heavy milk drinker, so they cut back on that to a degree. And so, within three months he was off all breathing treatments.”

Some patients view chiropractic as a “last resort” treatment “because they tried the medical route,” he said, and it didn’t provide relief. Others may have been told they needed surgery and are looking for alternatives before going under the knife.

Like other medical specialists, chiropractors earn their D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic) after four years of postgraduate study. They also serve a one-year internship.

Houseal, now 68, has no plans to retire soon. He will continue his practice “as long as I can because there aren’t too many younger chiropractors coming into the state,” he said. “Most of us are up there in age.”

If you decide chiropractic could be good for what ails you, Houseal said the process is straightforward. “Exam, X-rays, therapy,” he said. To schedule an appointment, call 601-634-1600.

Watch for announcements of winners for Best Pharmacist, Best Nurse, Best Clinic, Best Nursing Home and Best Hospice coming soon.

Don’t forget to cast your votes for the Best Automotive Sales & Service providers in September! Every month VDN will have a new category to highlight the professionals that serve our community on our Cast Your Vote page.


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