Patients, colleagues remember late LewisGale doctor

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 5:50 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - There is now one fewer set of hands at work in the operating room of LewisGale Medical Center.

One fewer familiar face to thousands of patients.

One fewer friend at the side of Dr. John Harding.

“That’s gonna be a big part, you know, as I go to the operating room now and he’s not across the table,” said the doctor in LewisGale’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department.

Dr. Kevin Walsh died unexpectedly at age 51 in late October.

For 20 years, Dr. Harding said he and Walsh worked side by side in residency, private practice and then at LewisGale.

He was a steady voice Harding remembers navigated tough operations with confidence.

“And he would say, ‘We got this,’” Harding recalled, dabbing his eyes. “And he was always right.”

Nurse Jess Plott said Dr. Walsh wore fun scrub hats and played music in the operating room, ‘90s stuff usually.

“Dr. Walsh’s patients loved him, like, they just adored him,” Plott said.

His wheels were always turning, looking to personalize care for each patient.

“They didn’t mind waiting for him, because once he was with that patient,” she said, “it was full focus on them and they felt that.”

Personal care doled out, they say, to the more than 3,000 babies he delivered. That included Jett and Jax Salyers, the babies of identical twins married to identical twins.

The Salyers, Josh and Brittany and Jeremy and Briana, garnered attention from people all over the world, and a show on TLC.

They say Dr. Walsh was with them every step of the way, giving them hope for a family even after they both miscarried.

“It became a very happy, wonderful time with Dr. Walsh kind of being our guiding light,” said Briana Deane Salyers.

“And he always said in his very good natured way that as an OB doc he had won the lottery by getting to be involved in our unique situation,” said her twin Brittany Deane Salyers. “And what we said was that it was us that won the lottery because he was just absolutely one of a kind and we were just so grateful to have him as our physician and in our lives.”

LewisGale CEO Lance Jones said his staff has come together to make sure all Walsh’s patients are taken care of.

“The outpouring from our community in regards to Dr. Walsh’s passing has been phenomenal,” Jones said. “Without a doubt there are several thousand people in this world now because of him and his skillsets. And if anything that’s a way to continue his memory.”

Jones said the OB-GYN team will work together to recruit someone to eventually fill the open position.

In the meantime, Plott and Harding say they’ll do everything they can to carry on that legacy, encouraging his patients to do the same.

“He touched so many people,” Harding said. “I guess honor him in the way he interacted with you. You know keep an eye out for his family and his kids because they’re gonna need some help and some love and a shoulder to cry on. Live every day to the fullest, he did.”

At this time, it is unclear what caused his death.

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