For a long time one of the highlights of Dr. Regina B. Dandy’s day was crossing King’s Ferry and coming home to Richmond Hill.
Dr. Dandy is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, at SouthCoast Health in Richmond Hill. She is married to Dr. Ronald Dandy, a local opthamologist and retinal surgeon and they have two children, Ronald, Jr. and James, both of whom attend McAllister Elementary School.
The doctor, who was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, completed her residency at Memorial Hospital in 2004 and has been a local resident since.
The road for the doctor from Jackson to Richmond Hill comes mostly from schooling and her residency in family practice at Memorial.
"I met and married my husband during my last year of residency at Memorial University Medical Center, in Savannah.
"I finished my internship at a hospital in Philadelphia after finishing medical school and my mom had some health issues so I wanted to get a little closer to home. So this was the place I landed."
The doctor had a private medical practice for six years through a local clinic and then worked in an academic position at Armstrong University for two years,
While living in Richmond Hill with one child in kindergarten, one in daycare at her job and a husband traveling back and forth daily to Savannah proved to be something of a logistical challenge, she said.
So when the position at SouthCoast in Richmond Hill became available, she accepted.
Which meant she was living and working in her adopted hometown, one she has come to love.
"I’ve lived in Richmond Hill since 2006 and love it. Richmond Hill is home for me. I like the small town feel and friendliness of Richmond Hill. It’s a safe community, the schools are great and, again, it’s a very friendly community. It reminds me a lot of home. I’m a southern girl and this feels like I’m home.
"The area just keeps growing and getting bigger and better. I hope we can keep the small town feel as we continue to grow. When I worked in Savannah, the best part was the drive home. It was just a long drive to and from work every day. When I crossed the Ogeechee River on Highway 17, I just went ‘ahhh’.
"Life is about growth. So growth is going to happen. I love Richmond Hill but in all honesty, the one thing that needs to improve is the shopping. But that will happen eventually. We’ll get more great shops," she said with a smile.
Dr. Dandy loves a myriad of outdoor and other activities and spending time with her family when she isn’t seeing patients at SouthCoast.
"I love to bask in God’s wonders. Just being outdoors and seeing the birds. It doesn’t matter if I’m in my backyard or at Fort McAllister, just being outdoors is wonderful. I actually saw a woodpecker in our backyard. It was the most beautiful sight. I’m not really a bird person but I like seeing God’s beauty.
"I like doing things with my boys and husband. I love shopping. Who doesn’t love shopping and a good handbag," she laughs and asks rhetorically.
Deeply spiritual, she says cooking and reading also help her unwind after a ‘day at the office.’
"I’m reading a book by Joyce Meyer called ‘Battlefield of the Mind,’ at the moment. She is an evangelist and puts out all kinds of inspirational and spiritual books. I like to read those kinds of books. I also love reading and studying my Bible. I’d describe myself as a deeply religious woman. I love to cook southern. Grit, greens, shrimp, seafood gumbo and fried chicken are just some of the things that I love to cook."
Dr. Dandy says she doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves and getting her hands dirty, a trait she credits to her upbringing and specifically her mother and father, with instilling in her.
"There’s no job I can’t do. When I was a kid, we’d pick peas and do all kinds of things. My grandmother used to say ‘if you didn’t work you didn’t eat.’"
Her upbringing also focused on helping others and the girl from Jackson wanted to become a doctor for as long as she can remember.
"I was the first person in my family to go to college. I have three sisters. I knew in second grade that I wanted to become a doctor. Mrs. Cole’s class. I guess they didn’t call it career day back then but that’s what it was. Our school was in a very poor neighborhood. Dr. Freida Bush, a black doctor came to speak. That was the first time I had ever seen a black female doctor. I didn’t know they existed. I was so absolutely floored when she talked. I was enthralled with her conversation. I wanted to be just like that. That’s part of where it started. Mrs. Cole said ‘Regina, if you want to be like that, you’ll have to work really hard and as long as you work really hard, you’ll be able to do that and a lot more."
The common theme that runs through much of what Dr. Dandy, the youngest of four sisters, says is hard work and responsibility.
"My parents worked extremely hard. The neighborhood that we lived in had gotten really bad by the time I was in sixth grade. We moved and my mom worked two jobs and my dad worked at a Frito-Lay plant. I was raised seeing them work hard every day. That was just normal for our family. We never knew we didn’t have a lot because we had what we needed. We had love and good times. They were very good character-building times. I guess that is where the work ethic started.
"I had a lot of people along the way who encouraged and inspired me. It was school, church and home. Communities raised children. That’s whey I have such an appreciation for teachers today. They helped me along the way."
That sense of responsibility and giving back to the community has taken roots in Dr. Dandy, who is active at her boys school, McAllister, both with her time and resources, having served on the school council.
"I love McAllister. It’s a great school with great teachers. My boys have thrived in the Bryan County school system. They love their students and want the best for them.
"Whatever community you live in, I think you have an obligation to give back."
The doctor’s weekends are devoted to family and she cherishes that time with her husband and boys.
"We save that time for the family. It’s our chance to decompress and have fun."
She is a little stumped when asked what she might be doing if she weren’t a doctor.
"I’d be doing something that would be helping people. Maybe a teacher," she says smiling after thinking for a moment.
The hard work of teaching wouldn’t scare Dr. Dandy away, thanks, in part, to a family used to rolling up their sleeves and doing whatever it takes to getting the job done.