Tyler Physician Named TMA Health Hero

May 19, 2018  

Li-Yu Mitchell, MD, a Tyler family physician, was named a Health Hero by the Texas Medical Association (TMA) for her commitment to improving the health of her community. She was one of only three physicians TMA honored with the second annual award last week during TexMed, TMA’s annual conference, in San Antonio. 

The award recognizes TMA members who have led and participated in all three of TMA’s flagship outreach programs: Be Wise — ImmunizeSM, a program to educate about vaccinations and improve vaccination rates in Texas; Hard Hats for Little Heads, a bike helmet giveaway program; and Walk With a Doc Texas(WWAD), a national grassroots movement devoted to encouraging healthy physical activity. TMA’s Council on Health Promotion presents the award as part of its oversight of TMA’s outreach programs, along with the TMA Foundation (TMAF), which funds them.

“I am honored to be named a Health Hero,” said Dr. Mitchell. “I simply took advantage of bringing these important programs to Smith County.”

TMA also recognized the Smith County Medical Society, a group of Tyler-area physicians, as a Health Hero alongside Dr. Mitchell. Together, they have sponsored a WWAD walk in Tyler* since 2014 led by Dr. Mitchell and other physicians. The Tyler Fit City Coalition also helped start the initiative in Tyler.

The Smith County walk is unique, said Dr. Mitchell, because the physician walk leaders change weekly. (Most WWAD sponsors are a single physician, or two physicians.) “Our physician members really have embraced educating and exercising with patients in a nonclinic setting.”

Dr. Mitchell and Smith County Medical Society also have vaccinated Whitehouse children in prep for school, and against the flu. In addition, they are working with TMA this year to vaccinate Tyler college students against human papillomavirus to help prevent cancers caused by the virus.

A local half marathon provided the venue to give away Hard Hats for Little Heads helmets last year. Dr. Mitchell, other physicians, and volunteers fit helmets to children for free.

Angela Driggs, executive director of the Smith County Medical Society, said Dr. Mitchell’s leadership in bringing the programs to the Tyler area and her dedication to keeping them going has been extraordinary. “No one could be more deserving of the ‘Health Hero’ title,” said Ms. Driggs. “Dr. Mitchell is a true champion of health for her patients, the Smith County Medical Society, and our East Texas community.”

To Dr. Mitchell, the efforts go hand in hand with the practice of medicine. “These programs bring physicians back to the roots of why we chose careers in medicine — they help reignite and strengthen our passion for caring for others,” said Dr. Mitchell, who has practiced medicine for 17 years.

Dr. Mitchell said she believes physicians can affect patients’ health with their clinical skills and through community outreach. “Showing patients our personal side and our willingness to engage in their health outside of office hours humanizes us.”

The TMA Foundation, TMA’s philanthropic arm, is committed to connecting the charitable concerns of physicians with the people of Texas. The three TMAF-funded outreach initiatives enable physicians to give back to their community and help support TMA’s mission to “improve the health of all Texans.”

A TMA member for 22 years, Dr. Mitchell serves on TMA’s Council on Health Promotion and the TMA Be Wise — Immunize Physician Advisory Panel. She is a former president and secretary of the Smith County Medical Society and is a delegate to the TMA House of Delegates, the association’s policymaking body.

Other physicians who were named Health Heroes today are TMA President Douglas W. Curran, MD, of Athens, and Lekshmi Nair, MD, of Manvel. They join four physicians who received this distinction in 2017.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 51,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.


Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

*Walkers meet the first and third Saturdays of each month at 9 am at Rose Rudman Trail, Copeland Road Trailhead, to walk.

Contact:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org

Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org

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Last Updated On

June 05, 2018