University of South Carolina

Medical school chair planting new roots in SC

By Jeff Stensland, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3686

Although he typically wears a shirt and tie, Dr. E.J. Mayeaux, Jr., will always consider himself a “country boy” at heart.

A lifelong Louisianan and Eagle Scout, Mayeaux (pronounced “my you”) says when he’s not seeing patients or teaching he’d prefer to be riding one of his horses through the woods. “I spent many summers on my uncle’s farm and once I started working with horses I never looked back,” says Mayeaux, who currently owns two walking horses and an Arabian.

Mayeaux was recently named the new chairman of Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at USC’s School of Medicine. With his move to Columbia, Mayeaux leaves behind a 100-acre farm in Shreveport, La ., where he took care of the horses and tended to the land with his wife, Michelle.

Michelle and the horses will be joining him at a home in Northeast Columbia soon, but he did have to say goodbye to a large extended family and a vast network of friends, colleagues and patients. Mayeaux is a true Cajun. His roots in the Bayou State go back many generations and can be traced to the migration of French Acadians from Nova Scotia in the late 1700s.

“It’s a tough thing to leave when you have roots that deep. The Acadian culture is a lot like stereotypical Italians--we like to talk with our hands, we love life and we really, really care about our families,” he says.

Mayeaux spent the last 23 years of his career at Louisiana State University’s Medical Center and says the decision to move to South Carolina was difficult. It was the people he met at USC while scouting out the university that made all the difference.

“When you want to lead a team, you want a team of capable, competent people. But also people of good character and will. When I looked around, I saw that the people here were amazing,” he says.

Mayeaux’s clinical expertise includes women’s health topics such as cervical disease, HPV disease, HPV vaccination and skin diseases. He’s also interested in patient literacy as it relates to pediatrics, family practice and internal medicine as it the author of several medical books. He will begin serving as president of the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology in 2014.

In addition to his interest in horses, Mayeuax is a ropes course devotee who volunteers with the Boy Scouts, the YMCA and other groups in leadership training exercises. He says lessons learned on the course are transferrable to teaching the next generation of primary care physicians.

In an era of poor health outcomes and increasingly expensive specialty care, Mayeaux says USC’s commitment to quality primary care inside and outside the classroom is important. Strengthening the bonds between patients and trusted family physicians, much like the country doctors of old, is essential to improving health in America, he says.  

“What we do in primary care is so critical to the health of our individual patients, but also to our country and our health care system. When you have a group of people like we have here at USC, these folks can change individual communities and the world,” he says.  “Before I left Louisiana, I was taking care of children of patients who I delivered. I would go to their reunions and was a part of their lives. That’s the sort of legacy you leave with families.”

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Posted: 07/22/13 @ 6:00 AM | Updated: 07/21/13 @ 8:13 PM | Permalink