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‘An exciting day for Halifax and Virginia’

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South Boston News
Dr. Joni Abbott at her office in the hospital’s medical building. Her first name is pronounced “Johnnie.” / September 17, 2020

One of Halifax County’s own has returned to her hometown to serve as one of the community’s newest physicians.

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital recently hired Joni Abbott to join its medical staff as an OB/GYN provider.

“It has been a 12-year goal of mine to return home and serve the women in Halifax County,” said Abbott, who noted “my husband thought we’d never make it, but here we are.”

Abbott, who graduated from Halifax County High School in 2001, said she understands the yearning among some county residents for a hometown presence among the local medical community.

“I had heard first-hand about the dissatisfaction from friends and family about the constant turnover at the hospital, and I wanted to be here to provide great care for these women and their unborn children,” said Abbott.

After graduating from HCHS, Abbott earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Philosophy from University of North Carolina-Wilmington. It was there that she also began to train as a paramedic. Abbott became a paramedic during her last year at UNC-Wilmington.

“After becoming a paramedic, I knew I wanted to continue my education in the medical field,” said Abbott.

“I did not expect to go into the OB/GYN field of medicine, but during the medical school rotation, I saw the strong primary care with surgical specialty [track] allowed me to follow the patients for years and have the chance to make those connections with patients,” said Abbott.

Prenatal care is a special interest for Abbott, who is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. “There is a national push to help women who are pregnant with postpartum hemorrhages, to reduce the rates of cesarean section births, and recognize underlying conditions like high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease that can result in a fatal outcome during labor,” she said.

Abbott completed her studies at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012 and went on to a four-year OB/GYN residency at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed her medical studies after having enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. As part of her residency, she and her family moved to Tokyo for two years.

“Japan is a great country, it is very safe and clean which was nice while potty training my two year old daughter,” said Abbott. “We were able to enjoy a lot of traveling. We visited China, Thailand, Australia, and Guam.”

Abbott and her husband, John Messer, relocated to Halifax County this June and she began practicing at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in August. Her husband is also in the medical field — he is a registered nurse at Person Memorial Hospital in Roxboro, N.C.

The couple met in Wilmington while working as paramedics. They have two children — their daughter Mahdi is six years old and a newborn son William is 10 months old. They are members of Saint John’s Episcopal Church in the Town of Halifax, where they worship with Bill and Darnell Abbott of Halifax, Joni’s father and stepmother.

Abbott is pleased to have full schedule of patients this early in her tenure. “The office and hospital staff are amazing. They are ideal, helpful and very knowledgeable.”

To clients and to expecting families generally, she offers a helpful tip during the coronavirus pandemic — “We’d like everyone know that only one support person is allowed in the delivery room and only the patient is allowed in the examination room. This is hard for those who would like to hear their baby’s heart beat during an ultrasound visit,” said Abbott.

Abbott’s office is located at 2206 Wilborn Avenue in Medical Office Building 1, located on Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital campus, just to the right of the hospital. Abbott’s office number is 434-517-8627. Office hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.


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