What do you call a physician who takes time out of his or her schedule to host hands-on vaccination clinics, to give away bicycle helmets to children, and to walk with members of the community?
Yes, all of the above are correct. But the Texas Medical Association also calls those physicians Health Heroes. TMA even recognizes them for their service and sacrifice.
Each year, TMA commends members who have led and participated in all three of TMA’s flagship outreach programs: Be Wise — ImmunizeSM, a program to educate Texans about vaccinations and improve vaccination rates; Hard Hats for Little Heads, a bike helmet giveaway program; and Walk With a Doc Texas, a grassroots movement devoted to encouraging healthy physical activity.
Three Texas physicians received the Health Hero award during TexMed 2018, TMA’s annual conference, in San Antonio:
- Newly installed TMA President Douglas W. Curran, MD;
- Lekshmi Nair, MD, of Manvel; and
- Li-Yu Mitchell, MD, of Tyler.
Dr. Curran, an Athens family physician, spearheaded a mega-community event that combined all three of TMA’s outreach programs during the Athens Turkey Trot Family Fun Run and Walk on Thanksgiving 2017.
C. Ted Mettetal, MD, of Athens, the Henderson County Medical Society, and Hope Springs Water helped host the event.
“Being named a Health Hero is an honor,” said Dr. Curran. “Some simple programs can make a big difference in people’s health, so I am thrilled our TMA helps physicians serve their communities in these ways.”
Dr. Nair, a family physician, and Love to Share Foundation America have sponsored the annual Life and Soul Health Fair since 2011. The fair provides health screenings and education, and new bicycle helmets to kids. After giving helmets for many years, Dr. Nair started offering vaccinations at the fair to meet attendees’ need for flu shots. Since then, she has applied for and received six Be Wise Local Impact Grants to give vaccinations at her fall event. Dr. Nair also began hosting walks with Love to Share Foundation in March 2017.
“Walking is one of the best things we can do to live a long, healthy life. This program makes it easy and fun,” said Dr. Nair. “I host these events because they are great ways for physicians to connect with people in the community and build that patient-physician trust, which helps them make healthier choices.”
TMA also recognized Dr. Mitchell, a family physician, and the Smith County Medical Society, who have sponsored a walk in Tyler since 2014. The Tyler Fit City Coalition also helped start the initiative.
Dr. Mitchell and Smith County Medical Society also have vaccinated children in the town of Whitehouse in preparation for school and against the flu. A local half marathon last year provided the venue to give away Hard Hats for Little Heads helmets.
“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’s Council on Health Promotion presents the Health Hero award as part of its oversight of TMA’s outreach programs, along with the TMA Foundation (TMAF), which funds them. The foundation, TMA’s philanthropic arm, is committed to connecting the charitable concerns of physicians with the people of Texas.
TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads and Be Wise — Immunize are made possible through grants from TMAF. Generous gifts from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio, an anonymous physician and spouse, and TMAF Make-A-Difference donors make Hard Hats possible. Top donations from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute make Be Wise possible. Both programs are supported by TMA and TMA Alliance members and friends of medicine.
Walk With a Doc Texas is funded by a grant from TMAF with generous support from the TMA Insurance Trust and Prudential. Walk With a Doc is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages, and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle to improve the health and well-being of the country. Walk With a Doc was started in 2005 by David Sabgir, MD, a board-certified cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, who practices with the Mount Carmel Health System. To learn more, go to the Walk With a Doc website.