NEWPORT- Nearly one year ago, Dr. Leslie Lockridge, a local oncologist, was notified that he was losing his job at North Country Hospital. The termination caused uproar in the community; many of Lockridge's patients were upset when he was let go and rallied behind him. But when the dust settled, Lockridge opened a private practice a few months later. A celebration and fundraiser was held Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Eastside Restaurant in Newport to benefit his new clinic. Lockridge now shares space with Dr. Paul Julien, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) in a building about a mile from North Country Hospital. “So far so good,” Lockridge said about his new practice. Lockridge expanded his practice to include primary care and has nearly reached maximum capacity with having seen approximately 700 patients in six months, he said. Now Lockridge has his eye on expanding further in the future but warned that his goals are not cheap. He would need more nurses, equipment, malpractice insurance, and space, but he says the goals are within reach.A couple of guest speakers talked about how much they appreciate the quality of care they or their family members received from him, including P. J. Keeler. Keeler was involved in planning the fundraising event along with Lockridge’s assistant Danielle Wright and others.Lockridge and supporters have opened an account at Passumpsic Savings Bank called the Lockridge Caring Fund. All donations directly benefit patients, Keeler said.“This means the world to me,” Lockridge said to his supporters. He promised to continue to fight for his patients to help them get the best care available.