South AL medical clinic devastated by physician's death on Mount Everest

Published: May. 21, 2017 at 6:07 PM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2017 at 3:16 PM CDT
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GEORGIANA, AL (WSFA) - A south Alabama medical center is reacting to news that one of its doctors died over the weekend while climbing Mount Everest.

Georgiana Medical Center officials released a statement saying the news of the death of Dr. Roland Yearwood was both "devastating and heart wrenching" and remembering the doctor as a "selfless, strong physician respected by all of his colleagues."

The full statement reads:

"Dr. Roland Yearwood was an integral part of our healthcare network and an invaluable asset to the Georgiana community for 20 years. The news this morning was devastating and heart wrenching. Rural healthcare presents its own challenges but Dr. Yearwood was the type of physician that allows rural healthcare to survive. He would personally provide transportation for his patients and make house calls if needed. An unsung hero, he saved an infant who had nearly drown and delivered a baby 3 months premature. Due to the rural location, without his intervention, both children would not have had time to get to another location for life-saving treatment.

Dr. Yearwood was a selfless, strong physician respected by all of his colleagues. He was known as our 'trauma doc' due to his ability to stay calm and level-headed during emergencies while extending his confidence to the staff.

During his first attempt in 2015, Dr. Yearwood was forced to turn back due to an evacuation caused by an earthquake that hit the region during the climb, killing 18 people in his base camp. Without hesitation, he extended his trip and offered his medical services on the care team for the area. Our team supported his Mt. Everest endeavor completely and other physicians graciously maintained his practice during his absence so he could pursue this dream. The void he leaves in our hearts and community is heavy and widespread."

Yearwood, 50, made a successful ascent of the world's tallest mountain. He was up more than 27,000 feet near Everest's summit when he and three others were killed, according to a report from the Associated Press. The area is often referred to as the "Death Zone" due to its thin air.

Yearwood provided primary care to south Alabama residents for the past 20 years, according to Georgiana Medical Center's website, which said he also enjoyed sailing, diving, and flying.

At the time of his death, Yearwood was working on a personal goal of climbing the tallest summit on each of Earth's seven continents.

The physician is survived by his wife, who is also a local physician, as well as two daughters.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.