January

Excerpts from the 147th MSMA President’s Inaugural Speech

Published on January 28, 2015

… I have been informed that this is an historic inaugural event; apparently I am the first bald anesthesiologist you ever elected.  And speaking to my specialty as an anesthesiologist, I will try not to practice that art tonight …

My mother could not be with us tonight as she is dealing with a progressive medical illness but I can feel her presence and her smiling approval of her youngest son’s achievement.  A person who I dearly wish could have been here is my grandmother who meant so much to me and who was always confident that I and my brothers and sister would achieve wonderful things.  She listened incessantly to my early stories about wanting to be a doctor and so lovingly encouraged it.  I know she is smiling in heaven… 

(W)hat is the solution to all of this upheaval and experimentation in our new and ever changing health-care delivery world?  It’s you.  It’s all of us who practice quality medicine and care about our patients and the health care they receive.  I believe the new model of practice, particularly in the primary care specialties, must encompass a medical care team approach with a physician at the head of a team of multidisciplinary providers who manage the entire spectrum of a patient’s health… 

The physician is the ultimate patient advocate and must be a part of the ultimate solution to this health-care issue.  

To get the MSMA engaged on this task, I call for the establishment of a Presidential Commission on Health Equity.  This commission will be made up of health-care experts from across disciplines and across the state. 

They will be charged to study the issue of Mississippi’s poor health grades, access and provider issues and anything else that impacts the access to quality health care and an overall improvement in our citizens’ health.  They will be asked to report back with a blueprint that we can use to begin the work of improving the health of Mississippians … 

I have asked former president of the American Medical Association and MSMA, Dr. Edward Hill, to lead this effort and he has kindly agreed to do so… 

Finally, as I lightheartedly mentioned earlier, this is an historic inauguration. This inauguration takes place in the 50th year anniversary of Freedom Summer when the civil rights movement was in full force and our society was deeply divided along racial lines.  It was a time when African Americans could not become members of the MSMA … 

It was a time when I could not be addressing you in this manner or even listening to the address. But here I stand tonight addressing you as your 147th President.  And I submit to you that the importance of this achievement is not defined by my standing here, but by your sitting there.  Because it is you collectively who made this moment possible …