By Erin Smith
A crowd of friends, colleagues and neighbors gathered on Friday afternoon at Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery in Elizabethtown to celebrate a milestone. After giving 31 years of her life to working in the field of medicine, Dr. Pearly Graham Hoskins has decided it’s time to retire.
Dr. Hoskins was welcomed to the podium with a standing ovation as she greeted her guests and colleagues.
“I’m speechless,” said Dr. Hoskins as she looked around the room at the large audience that had gathered to thank her and to celebrate her career.
She related how she had attended Howard University and UNC Medical School before traveling to and residing in Trinidad. When she returned home she was looking for a place to set up her practice. She related David Clark called her and encouraged her to contact Leo Petit who was the Administrator of Bladen County Hospital at the time. Dr. Hoskins said after talking with him and Clark, she decided to open a solo practice in Bladen County.
“I came. I started a private practice—solo practice, which you did then,” said Dr. Hoskins. “It has been a wonderful, wonderful 31 years.”
She recounted that part of her reason for staying in Bladen County was her father, the late Artis Graham and her mother, Berline Graham. Dr. Hoskins said, “Daddy would ask us, ‘how are you paying the rent to God? How are you paying him rent for enjoying his creation?’”
Dr. Hoskins said she told her father she would work for two years at Bladen County Hospital and help to improve it. She laughed as she said that was 31 years ago and she told her father she had paid the rent to God.
Dr. Hoskins credits God with ordering her steps and allowing her to return to her native Bladen County. She said when she initially graduated from college, she did not think she would return home.
Her brother Jerry Graham spoke on behalf of the family. He said the family is proud of Dr. Hoskins accomplishments throughout her career. Not only is she a licensed physician, she is also a minister and volunteers her time in the community.
“We love her,” said Graham.
Her colleagues also shared their love and deep respect for Dr. Hoskins. Cape Fear Valley CEO Mike Nagowski also spoke.
“She has meant more to this community than any other individual has meant to any community. To have a physician grow up in our community and return to take care of our community is truly unique,” said Nagowski.
He added the manner in which Dr. Hoskins cares for her patients and the level of health care in Bladen County is truly remarkable.
Cape Fear Valley Chief Operating Officer Dan Weatherly echoed Nagowski’s sentiments. He spent several years at Bladen County Hospital immediately following the merger of Cape Fear Valley and Bladen County Hospital. Weatherly said it is very unique to have someone to decide to come back and offer medical care in their community where they grew up.
“She practiced what she preaches. She gives her time, her talents and her treasures, both to the foundation and to the citizens of this community,” said Weatherly.
He thanked her for her dedication and hard work for 31 years of service.
Current President of Cape Fear Valley-Bladen Healthcare Dr. Roxie Wells also spoke. “Dr Hoskins has served many many years in this community and hospital as well,” said Dr. Wells.
Dr. Wells said Dr. Hoskins was graduate of East Arcadia High School and earned the rank of Valedictorian and earned a bachelors degree in chemistry at Howard. She graduated from the medical school at UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Hoskins performed an internship at Howard University and then moved to Trinidad where she studied Psychology and then returned home. Dr. Hoskins completed her residency in Wilmington.
“I think that we are extremely blessed that she made the decision all of those years ago to return home. It is rare. It is difficult to get individuals who are well educated, well learned to come back and serve their communities,” said Dr. Wells.
Dr. Hoskins did not elaborate on her plans for the future.
You can watch video from the gathering here: