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Dr. Lynn Naylor is a surgeon at Decatur General Hospital.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Dr. Lynn Naylor is a surgeon at Decatur General Hospital.

After nearly 40 years of practicing, Decatur surgeon has no plans to retire

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

If the last person you see before surgery is wearing a camouflage surgical cap with LSU on it, you’re in experienced hands.

Dr. Lynn Naylor loves his work, and he wouldn’t mind spending all his time in the operating room.

“I don’t have many bad days in the operating room because I enjoy it,” he said. “The really hard days are when I’m dealing with a difficult problem and things don’t go well.

“But if I had my druthers, I would like to spend all my time operating and have someone else do my office work for me. The most exasperating thing I have to do is paperwork, and it just gets worse and worse.”

The surgeon often livens up the hospital environment with headgear that reminds him of his pastimes, hunting and fishing, and his native state, where he earned his medical degree from Louisiana State University.

“He wears that cap quite often — especially when LSU is going to play football,” said Dr. Bill Walker, one of Naylor’s partners at Surgical Associates of North Alabama. “It’s sort of like a do-rag, and he has several different kinds.”

Walker described Naylor, 68, as the senior member of the medical staff of Decatur General Hospital when he nominated him for one of the two John A. Caddell Awards for 2007.

Another partner, Dr. Randy Buckner, will tell about Naylor’s contributions during nearly 40 years of practicing medicine in Decatur when he helps present the award at the hospital foundation’s Gala XXIII next month.

“I consider him a surgeon’s surgeon, because other doctors go to him,” said Dr. Walker. “He’s operated on me before. He has a tremendous amount of experience, and we depend on that, picking his brain and going to him in making judgments about surgeries.”

Dr. Walker said Dr. Naylor brought vascular surgery to Decatur “and was doing it here before they were doing it in Huntsville.” He is the oldest and most experienced doctor in Decatur still doing surgery.

“He’s pretty amazing. He still takes call, too, and we’re always amazed by his stamina,” said Dr. Walker.

Dr. Naylor said others ask him when he will retire.

“I still love doing what I do, and I don’t have any immediate plans for retirement,” he said, though many of his friends have retired or stopped handling surgeries.

He came to Decatur after completing surgical training in Memphis in July 1968, around the same time as Dr. Bill Sims, Dr. George Hansberry and Dr. Roland Guice.

‘Demand for doctors’

“This area of North Alabama was booming at the time with the space industry, and a lot of my contemporaries were coming here at the time because of the demand for doctors.

“I wanted to practice in this size town, and I knew a lot of people here and knew it was a good medical community,” Dr. Naylor said. “I also love the river, and it’s turned out to be a great place to live and raise seven children while doing what I was trained to do: take care of sick people and operate on them.”

He said practicing in Decatur allowed him to do general surgery and chest and vascular surgery, while he probably would have had to specialize more if he had gone to Huntsville.

“If you go to bigger towns, they have breast surgeons and trauma surgeons and colorectal surgeons and hernia surgeons, but I was trained to do all those things and have had a broad practice. I was doing endoscopies in this town before they ever got a gastroenterologist, but I was glad to see them come in,” said Dr. Naylor.

Through the years, he has participated in major advancements such as laparoscopic surgeries, with smaller incisions, less pain and briefer time in the hospital.

Dr. Naylor’s first office was in the former Baugh-Wiley-Smith Hospital, where the Community Free Clinic is now located. He originally went into practice with Dr. Rhett Danley and was later joined by Dr. Ken Chandler.

After retirements and additions through the years, his office now includes Dr. Glen Ward, Dr. Greg Adams and Dr. Jay Suggs, in addition to Dr. Walker and Dr. Buckner.

Dr. Naylor estimates that he handles about 18 surgery cases a week, plus seeing patients in his office and the hospital. He also takes call about one night a week and one weekend out of six. And in addition to Decatur General, he performs surgery at The Surgery Center, Med Surg and Parkway Medical Center.

At Decatur General, Dr. Naylor, whose formal name is Lionel, has served as chief of the medical staff and chief of surgery. He also was president of the Morgan County Medical Society and served on its Board of Censors.

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