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Posted: October 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

World traveler sets roots in Newton

Family brings doctor to Covington

Michelle Kim/

The doctor is in: Dr. Erinne Graham a recent transplant to Newton County from Naples, Italy, said she appreciated Covington's slower pace of life and open spaces.

For Dr. Erinne Graham and her family, 2008 has been a year of great change.

After more than a decade with the Navy, having lived throughout the world, Graham is becoming a civilian again and setting roots in the Covington area.

"This is a big starting over," said the affable OB-GYN surgeon, of moving from Naples, Italy, where she and her family – husband Tovi, son Erik, 5, and daughter Arya, 3 - lived for the past two years. "I’m leaving out of the Navy," she said, "and I’m turning 35."

Graham, a native of White Springs, Fla., was brought to the area by Dr. Cathy Larrimore, who trained Graham while the two were at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va.

"We teased that one day, we’d be out of the military and she would call me up, just like she did, to tell me she was getting out," said Larrimore, who set up her own practice in Covington in 2004, but found she needed to expand to keep up with new patients.

Having family in the area was a factor in her decision, said Graham, but she also appreciated Covington’s slower pace of life, greenery, open space and accessibility to the big city.

Graham is no stranger to striking out in new directions. Though most of her family members were educators, she caught the bug to become a doctor after participating in a Morehouse summer science program.

"I set a goal early on and continued towards that path," she said.

After graduating from Spelman College in Atlanta, she joined the military, which paid for her medical school at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. Upon graduation she was stationed in Virginia, Guam and Italy.

Being in the Navy gave her an opportunity to see many things, such as the pyramids in Egypt.

"You stand next to these things, and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness. Humans did this!"

It also allowed her to experience life abroad.

"Overseas countries have a different pace to life," she said. "Everything happens in its own time. You prioritize things differently."

She realized patients of other nationalities also have different expectations of their doctors and their healthcare.

"Sometimes there’s more handholding. Some patients want to have 100 percent access to doctors," any time of the day or night, she said.

But after 12 years in the service, Graham felt it was time to settle down with a stable home for her family.

"My parents have had the same address for 40 years, and I want that for them," she said.

"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Navy, but it’s time to do something for my family, because they sacrificed for me. It’s time to make changes for them," she said.

Graham begins working with Larrimore’s practice in October and starts seeing patients Nov. 3, according to Office Manager Liz Harris.

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