By Randall Turk

Transcript Business Editor

Dr. Kevin Faris has found he is “inheriting” part of the practice of George Hulsey, a family physician whose sudden death last month shocked hundreds of friends, associates and patients.

Or perhaps the patients are inheriting him.

Many of Norman’s established physicians have tremendous caseloads and are unable to accept new patients. But Faris, who has moved his practice to nearby Noble, is an exception. “If they want to make the drive down here, I’ll see them,” Faris said. His office is about five miles south of downtown Norman.

The affable and well-liked Hulsey, 67, lost his battle with cancer, leaving behind a Norman medical practice he began nearly 40 years ago.

Working through Hulsey’s office staff, Faris has notified Hulsey’s patients he is available to care for them. “I saw four of Dr. Hulsey’s patients just days after he passed away,” Faris said.

Faris, 48, an internal medicine specialist, practiced medicine for eight years in the Air Force and in Purcell for seven years before relocating his practice to Norman in 1997. He said he decided to move his offices to Noble because he and his assistant, Nurse Practitioner Travis Pendarvis, live there. Temporarily, their wives will serve as office staff.

The Noble practice officially opens Monday at 205 S. Main St. The number is 872-5403.

Faris advises Hulsey’s former patients to bring their medical records with them. “If their charts are still at Dr. Hulsey’s office, I don’t know what the status of those records will be,” he said.

A 1982 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Faris served at Wilford Hall Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and at the Altus and Tinker air force bases. He retired a major. “I was required to serve one year for every year of training,” he said. “These days, the arrangement is two years for every year the military pays for school.”

He describes internal medicine as “high-powered family medicine.” While he serves only adult patients, Pendarvis will see children. Pendarvis has practiced with a pediatric physician in Seminole for several years. He said he will join the Noble practice in early March. Pendarvis carries out many of the duties of a primary care provider. “I can write prescriptions, send people to the hospital and make hospital rounds with Dr. Faris,” he said.

Faris said endocrinology is his chief interest, although diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are the “meat and potatoes” conditions he treats. “Cholesterol guidelines are a third of what they were when I was in medical school,” he said.

He prefers to prevent rather than treat such conditions, although patients with severely high blood pressure or cholesterol levels require aggressive treatment with medications. “The good news is, with preventive medicine we’ve cut the heart attack rate by more than half, to about 300,000 a year,” he said.

Faris and Pendarvis agree that obesity is at epidemic levels in this country, for both adults and children. “Everybody wants to eat like they’re on the farm,” Faris said. “But a lot of good drugs to fight obesity, such as hormone pills and shots, are coming down the pike.”

Dr. Hulsey, for many years president of the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation, was an outdoorsman who was honored by Outdoor Life Magazine in 1978 as “America’s Conservationist of the Year.” He was The Transcript’s outdoor editor and columnist.

Hulsey helped found the North American School of Wilderness Medicine and served on its board. He owned land near Cordell which he rehabilitated for wildlife habitat.

“Dr. Hulsey always had a story,” Faris recalled. “He had the best stories in town. He knew everybody. Many people will miss him. He is one of a lot of tragedies in the medical community.”

On average, nationwide statistics show, physicians’ lives are 10 years shorter than the norm. Hulsey was proof of that, Faris agreed. But he has good news for Hulsey’s patients: “We’d like to help them get an early start on health.”

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