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Dr. V. Prasad Yitta headed to job in Texas, looks back on 33 years in Ogdensburg

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OGDENSBURG — After calling the city his home for 33 years, general surgeon Dr. V. Prasad Yitta will begin a less hectic life in a warmer climate.

Dr. Yitta will start a job Monday focusing on helping victims of industrial-related injuries at the Nova Medical Corp. clinic in Houston, Texas.

“I am sad to leave this place, but I have to leave for a change in lifestyle,” Dr. Yitta said.

He has been on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week since he started as a surgeon at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in 1980. His job in Texas, he said, requires no night or weekend work. That will be a welcome change from his line of work for the last three decades, he said.

The job has been demanding, but it was also the demand for his services that kept him in Ogdensburg.

“I never had to look for work,” he said. “That changed my perception of this place. I thought, ‘why should I go anywhere else when people keep wanting and asking me to take care of them?’”

Over the years, he estimates he has performed at least 25,000 surgeries at Claxton-Hepburn.

“It is impossible to measure the impact of Dr. Yitta in St. Lawrence County over three decades,” medical center President and CEO Mark A. Webster said in an emailed statement. “He has touched thousands of lives with his skilled hands and inimitable style. Prasad was always there, and while we wish him well in his next phase of life, his absence in our community and at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center will be profound.”

Dr. Yitta received his doctor of medicine degree from Guntur Medical College in Andhra Pradesh, India. He completed his internship at Mercy Hospital, Des Moines, Iowa, and his residency in general surgery at Wilson Memorial Hospital, Johnson City. He completed a fellowship at Texas Heart Institute, Houston, in 1979 before joining the Claxton-Hepburn staff in September 1980. He has also served as the medical director of River Hospital, Alexandria Bay, since 2010.

While at Claxton-Hepburn, he served as medical and dental staff president from 1995 to 1997 and as chief of surgery from 2001 to 2003.

His family’s medical contributions in Ogdensburg are also well known. Dr. Yitta’s wife, Dr. Suseela D. Yitta, has been a pediatrician in the city for the last three decades. Dr. Yitta said his wife will remain practicing here for at least another year.

Both of their daughters also work in the medical field. Gita Yitta is currently completing a dental residency in the Bronx. Silaja Yitta represents the second generation of the family to serve Claxton-Hepburn, providing imaging and quality assurance consultation remotely from her home in San Francisco, Calif.

He credited the Ogdensburg school system with laying the foundation for his daughters’ success.

In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Yitta served on the Claxton-Hepburn Foundation Board of Directors from 1994 to 2004.

“He has been very generous to the hospital,” Claxton-Hepburn Foundation Executive Director Cynthia L. Clusen said.

That generosity bleeds over into the community, where he has contributed to scholarships for graduating high school seniors and regularly donated to charitable causes.

“I did better than what I expected to do here, so I thought I should share what I have earned with the community,” Dr. Yitta said.

Dr. Yitta has also been a regular volunteer at the Knights of Columbus free community Thanksgiving dinner. He said he has encouraged the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center staff to maintain that tradition.

“It’s very important to give every year so nobody misses a meal on the holiday,” he said. “That will continue.”

Dr. Yitta said while he is excited for his future, he will miss the people of the north country.

“The people were more than welcoming to me from day one,” he said. “But for the people of St. Lawrence County and the medical staff at Claxton-Hepburn, I would not have made it here. I owe them a lot.”

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