When Austin colon and rectal surgeon David C. Fleeger, MD, was sworn in as the Texas Medical Association’s 154th president last May, a global pandemic was a nebulous threat – something physicians should watch out for but more likely to be seen in movies and on TV.
That changed about six months into Dr. Fleeger’s term.
“I have to admit, I did not see COVID-19 coming,” Dr. Fleeger said in a farewell speech to TMA members.
On Saturday, Houston-area emergency medicine physician Diana Fite, MD, will be installed as TMA’s new president.
Visit TMA’s Facebook page at noon Saturday to watch a live broadcast of her installation and address. Dr. Fleeger will administer the oath of office to his successor before transitioning to immediate past president.
Throughout his presidency, Dr. Fleeger traveled across Texas speaking to county medical societies and medical students at all 13 of Texas’ medical schools, and conducted hundreds of newspaper, television, and radio interviews.
He has been a strong advocate for a patient- and physician-friendly solution in proposed federal legislation on surprise billing, and has continued to push to ensure that health teams are led by physicians.
He was also a leading proponent of TMA’s Women Physicians Section, which the TMA House of Delegates approved the same day Dr. Fleeger became president.
“And then came COVID-19,” Dr. Fleeger said in his speech. “An ongoing war to which physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals have risen to the occasion – and made us all proud.”
Dr. Fleeger said one of the weaknesses the pandemic highlighted is Texas’ number of uninsured – 5 million before the pandemic, the highest in the U.S.
“I would challenge our association and our profession that as we create change we do so in a way that will benefit all Texans, especially the least fortunate amongst us,” he said.
TMA CEO Michael Darrouzet said it “was a blessing to have Dr. Fleeger’s guidance and advice” throughout his first year as the association’s executive vice president.
“I cannot thank Dr. Fleeger enough for his steadfast leadership while serving as president of the Texas Medical Association. His passion for patients and the profession of medicine is profound,” Mr. Darrouzet said. “Dr. Fleeger is a tremendous person and physician. His kindness and genuine nature shine through with everything he does. It is leaders like Dr. Fleeger that make it easy for staff to dedicate their own careers to supporting the physicians of Texas.”