Marion, OH,
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OhioHealth Marion Doctor Retires After 47 Years Leaving a Lasting Impact on the Community

Dr. James Bazzoli Poses Next to a News Article About HimselfDr. James Bazzoli has brought more than three generations of children into the world, but his impact on the Marion community extends far beyond delivering babies. From helping create a nationally recognized teen pregnancy program to extensive work with Rotary programs that sustain the community, Dr. Bazzoli has more than achieved a goal he set for himself decades ago. “I wanted to make a difference.”

 That goal was exceeded exceptionally through the eyes of colleagues he worked with throughout the years.

 “Dr. Bazzoli is one of the most dedicated physicians I have worked with in my years as a provider and care site leader. His love for his patients and the community is amazing and I knew I could always count on him for honest feedback. He helped me improve as a leader and to really understand Marion and the surrounding communities. Dr Bazzoli never pulled any punches which I truly appreciated. He definitely has made a difference in this community,” said Curtis Gingrich, MD, MBA, FAAFP, President of OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital and Emergency Department and OhioHealth Shelby Hospital, Ashland and Ontario Free Standing Emergency Departments, and former OhioHealth President of Marion General Hospital.

 Dr. Bazzoli, who retired in September, was associated with OhioHealth for the last 10 years of his 47-year career as an obstetrician gynecologist in Marion. In 1976, he joined the Smith Clinic, which later became OhioHealth Marion Area Physicians, “as a career, not a job. We (he and wife, Ellen) chose Marion because we wanted a smaller community, and we were able to immerse ourselves in the community through different avenues.”

 One of those is the Marion Adolescent Pregnancy Program (MAPP), which Dr. Bazzoli helped spearhead not long after he began practicing here. He and a pediatrician colleague at the Smith Clinic became concerned with the number of adolescent girls, some as young as 12, who were having babies. The growing number of teen pregnancies became a pivot point for Bazzoli. “I could either sit there and deliver babies or perhaps make an impact. Can we change the trajectory?”

 He and colleagues first had to prove there was a problem that needed to be addressed. With Ellen and others, he collected data, attended a teen pregnancy symposium at John Hopkins University and leveraged vital relationships he’d made in the community to make his case that something should and could be done.

 The result was MAPP, founded in 1980 as a project of the Mary Elizabeth Smith Foundation and incorporated when Marion had one the highest teen pregnancy rates in Ohio. The rate has since dropped at least 50 percent, according to MAPP.

 From its inception, MAPP has offered forward-thinking, comprehensive services that include home visits, confidential free pregnancy tests, access to prenatal care and links to other agencies, such as health and welfare departments. “We wanted to make the process and the resources as easy to navigate and access as possible,” Dr. Bazzoli said. “We had partnerships with every agency in town that had something to offer to them.”

 MAPP took trained educators into schools and worked with parents to get their buy-in.  “The parents embraced the program as much or more than the kids because whether you’re happy that this person gets pregnant or not, you want the best for them, so they were a key element to utilize.”

 The teen program embodies Dr. Bazzoli’s philosophy of care. “When you’re in a small community you have to decide, are you going to be selective, or are you going to serve all the people in your community.”

 MAPP served as a model for the state’s Help Me Grow program to connect teens and their families with agencies such as the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities to assess children and provide interventions if needed.

 Dr. Bazzoli, who retired from MAPP’s board of directors in 2020, said he is proud of “creating and sustaining a social services program that has stood the test of time and yet still evolves. The names change, the families change, but the problem remains the same.”

 He gets great satisfaction knowing he made a difference on an individual level, too. “I still have people come up and thank us for what we did 20, 30, 40 years ago.” But, he’s quick to add, “Nothing I do occurs in a vacuum … none of this would have been possible without tremendous community support.”

 Much of what he was able to accomplish stems from his deep involvement with Rotary since 1981, whose members helped ignite funding for MAPP and other impactful programs in Marion, such as low-income housing for seniors. “Rotary has guided me and motivated me probably more than anything else, because you’re connected to people with ideas. Rotary has allowed me to build a lot of relationships.”

 A Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International as well as R.T. Lewis Legacy Fellow, Dr. Bazzoli intends to stay actively involved with the organization and other community advancement endeavors during his retirement. He and his wife also look forward to spending more time with their four grandchildren in Columbus. Beyond that, his post-retirement plans are, “Number one, wake up. Number two, make it to lunch.” And number three? “One day at a time.”