Isbell family legacy of physicians continues

Long-time surgeon Dr. Steven Isbell has been joined in practice by his daughter, Dr. Eleanor Isbell Mathews.

For over 50 years, Walker & Isbell Surgeons medical practice faithfully served the Fort Payne and surrounding areas, offering general surgery and weight loss services. But in September of 2021, the practice begins a new era as DeKalb General Surgery and Bariatrics.

Walker and Isbell Surgeons was recently acquired by Quorum Health Care, the parent company of DeKalb Regional Medical Center, and the clinic name changed to DeKalb General Surgery and Bariatrics. Long-time reputable surgeon Steven Isbell, M.D., will continue to offer general surgery and weight-loss services there as an employed physician with DeKalb Medical Group. Isbell has performed weight-loss surgery for the last 20 years, and the new name change puts renewed and special emphasis on the vital Bariatric Surgery option available locally for people suffering from complications due to weight problems.

“This decision was made in order to continue the 52-year tradition of focused, careful general surgical assessment and care of adults and children,” said Isbell. “The prompt, courteous service we have offered all these years will continue, while the day-to-day look and function our patients see will remain largely unchanged.”

Isbell is a board-certified general surgeon who earned his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 1980 and completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1985. He has practiced all aspects of general, laparoscopic, vascular, and bariatric surgery in Fort Payne since 1985, the entire time at Walker-Isbell Surgeons, Dr. James Alex Walker having retired in 2009. Isbell currently renders services at the clinic to an estimated 6,000 individuals each year.

DeKalb General Surgery and Bariatrics will be located at the same address on Medical Center Drive, but when patients come to visit, they will notice the new name on the building-front and a new face within. Eleanor Isbell Mathews, M.D., has joined her father at the newly renamed clinic, to help continue the legacy of quality healthcare for which their family has become known.

Isbell said he cannot fully put into words the excitement he feels for having his daughter join him in practice at the clinic. When he returned to Fort Payne in 1985 to begin practicing medicine, other members of his family were also in practice, including his father Dr. John Isbell, his uncle Dr. Charles Isbell and cousin Dr. Chuck Isbell. His brother Dr. Blake Isbell continues in the practice of Gynecology at Isbell Medical Group, founded by their father in 1960. Though he was surrounded by family, so to speak, all of them were in other specialties.

“The joy of your own child alongside you in the same specialty is a true blessing and point of pride, especially knowing her gifts and abilities,” Isbell said. “She will bring a passion for continuing excellence, availability, kindness, and unending work ethic that will serve her patients and this community very well. On the surgical practice side, I look forward to seeing her new thoughts on technology and technique, aiming for always advancing how we handle the tasks before us as we care for this community.”

Born and reared in Fort Payne, Mathews graduated Valedictorian from Fort Payne High School in 2007 and was a DeKalb County Distinguished Young Woman representative. She graduated magna cum laude from Auburn University in 2010 with her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science, and in 2012 from the University of Alabama Rural Medical Scholars Program with her master’s in Human and Environmental Studies. She earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine in 2016 and recently completed her General Surgery residency at Brookwood Health System, where she received the Hugh Linder Award (Chief of the Year).

She treats a variety of general surgical conditions including gallbladder disease, appendicitis, hernias, intestine and colon surgery, cancers, and obesity, among others, and is competent in open, laparoscopic and robotic operations.

“I fell in love with general surgery after my first week on rotation in medical school,” Mathews said. “I loved the fast pace, the variety of cases, tangible results and the chance to build relationships with patients of any age. Patients undergoing surgery are at their most vulnerable – asleep on the operating table, putting their life in your hands. What an honor and privilege!”

The most rewarding part of being a physician to Mathews is seeing patients postoperatively who have been cured of their disease or relieved of their symptoms.

Mathews married her high school sweetheart, Colby, who is an attorney, and they are expecting their first child, Katherine, in December. According to Mathews, the couple had always dreamed of returning to Fort Payne after completing education and training.

“Fort Payne has always felt like “home” to both of us, and we already enjoy getting involved in the community and our church,” Mathews said. “I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to work with my father. He has been my role model and inspiration for as long as I can remember, and I cannot imagine a better mentor or partner.”

DeKalb General Surgery and Bariatrics is located at 321 Medical Center Drive SW, Fort Payne, and is currently accepting new patients. Spanish bilingual. To make an appointment with Isbell or Mathews, call 256-845-4131 or visit

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