By Trina Trice
The county is losing one of its most popular and well-liked pediatricians this month.
Dr. Chyung Kim is hanging up his stethoscope after 36 years of service in the Clayton County community.
Friends, workers and former co-workers gathered to say good-bye to the doctor in a fest of tears, hugs, laughter, and iced cake at a retirement reception this week.
Janet Maddox once worked with Kim at Southern Regional Medical Center in the newborn intensive care unit.
"He's the most caring person for the children," Maddox said. "He didn't care if he made the mother and father happy or not. He did what was best for his kids."
Kim's strict work ethic was balanced by his good nature, according to former co-worker, nurse Monteen Elliott.
"Twenty-nine years ago, my son was born and Dr. Kim checked him," Elliott said. "He was not just an employer, he was also a good friend. When my mother had a heart attack, I called him. That's why we're all here. He was strict; he was Korean. But he was good."
New mother Stephanie White held Kim's youngest patient in her hands, son Jackson Walker White.
"I'm upset," White said. "He's been my doctor for 21 years. He was just a wonderful doctor, all the way around."
Kim, originally from Koje Island in South Korea, came to the United States when he was 24.
He obtained a medical degree from the University of Miami in 1964. Between 1964 and 1967, Kim received medical training at Georgia Baptist Hospital, after which made him the first Korean physician in metro Atlanta.
Kim joined a medical practice in Forest Park in 1967. He is one of the original doctors at Southern Regional. He currently runs a practice in Riverdale.
Kim is leaving a small staff of nurses behind, including Janet Crump, who has worked with him for three years. Her three children were Kim's patients, too.
"It's sad," she said. "His practice has been his life. He's relentless about his patients and the care he gives them. I know it was something he didn't want to do.
"You'll never come across a more conscientious pediatrician. You just don't find them anymore."
Kim isn't sad about the future though, partially due to the large turnout of friends and family.
"I am absolutely elated and honored," the doctor said. "It has been such a surprise. Everyone had kept this wonderfully secret. I love them, too."
When asked why there was such a large turnout for his retirement reception, Kim said "My staff they all know I always emphasize our patients come first. Whatever we do we do it for our patients.
"But I've been in this business for 36 years. I just want to have some free time of my own while I'm a little healthy still. I would like to fish, not to catch anything. I just want to be out there breathing the fresh air."
To commend his work for the county, Riverdale Mayor Mary Lee presented Kim with a proclamation that designates June 30 as "Dr. Chyung M. Kim Day."
Lee also presented Kim with a key to the city.
"With the 17 years I've been mayor, I've only given 10 of these away. I'm giving you a key to the city, so you'll never be lost and will always have a place to go."