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AMA Foundation Honors Compassionate Physicians With Excellence in Medicine Awards

CHICAGO, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation honored six physicians with awards representing the highest ideals of medical service in providing care to underserved and needy patients. The physicians will be honored during the sixth annual Excellence in Medicine Awards dinner on March 31, 2008 preceding the American Medical Association's National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. One physician received the Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine, two physicians received the Jack B. McConnell, M.D. Award for Excellence in Volunteerism and three others received the Pride in the Profession Award, all offered by the AMA Foundation in association with the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative. The six physicians honored with the awards are recognized for their compassion, leadership, excellence, integrity and high ethical standards.

"These physicians make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged populations through efforts that range from providing free care to uninsured patients, to bridging the gap in health disparities, to working through political channels to reshape our health care system," commented AMA Foundation President Barbara Rockett, M.D. "These individuals serve as wonderful role models for us all, and they truly represent what it means to give beyond one's self."

The Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine honors a domestic physician for outstanding international service in the areas of medical practice, medical education or medical research.

Subramaniam Balasubramaniam, M.D. Anaheim, Calif.

In 2000, Dr. Balasubramaniam took a team of experts from the U.S. to establish an International Training Institute (ITO) of the American Heart Association in Mumbai, India. Thanks to his efforts today there are many ITOs in India, providing standardized training. He then went on to set up the first formal Paramedic Training Program in India at Pune, using curriculum from the U.S., with help from the L.A. Paramedic Training Institute. He has made multiple trips to India to help establish fully functional Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) in many parts of India, which are saving lives today. Thanks to his efforts and vision, it will not be long before the whole of India has a fully functioning EMS with all its components, comparable to what exists in the U.S. The medical leadership in India has titled Dr. Balasubramaniam as the "Father of EMS in India." He has served in leadership roles in many organizations, including president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.

The Jack B. McConnell, M.D. Award for Excellence in Volunteerism honors domestic senior (more than 55 years old) physicians' commitment to volunteer medical care provided to those without access to health care in the United States.

Frank E. Staggers, Sr., M.D. Oakland, Calif.

A veteran of the Army and the Navy, Dr. Staggers retired from active duty in the Navy in 1963 with the rank of Commander and then served in the Naval Reserve for 10 years. Dr. Staggers has dedicated his life to preventing disease, improving the health of all in the community, and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities. Dr. Staggers instituted Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, which today is the largest prostate screening program in the country. He is a key leader in the AMA's Commission to End Health Care Disparities and also heads the Ethnic Health Institute, a nonprofit program to unite medical professionals and community leaders to coordinate health services and outreach in underserved communities. He is currently president of the California Medical Association Foundation. As a colleague has said, when you are with Dr. Staggers, "you can feel it. You can feel his compassion, you can feel his passion."

Viola Startzman, M.D. Wooster, Ohio

Viola Startzman, M.D., a 93-year-old physician, has helped the underserved throughout her career. Through her determination and organization, the Healthcare 2000 Community Clinic opened in 1995, and in 2000 was renamed the Viola Startzman Free Clinic, providing quality medical and dental care to low income, uninsured residents of Wayne County, Ohio. In 2003, Dr. Startzman purchased and donated the Clinic's medical building. She has organized physicians and nurses to provide services, worked on legal matters and raised funds for the Clinic. Last year, the Clinic provided nearly 10,000 patient visits. In the early 1960's, Dr. Startzman started a female healthcare clinic in the dining room of a female colleague's home. Since she was a pediatrician, she sought additional training to become a gynecologist and the small clinic eventually became the local office of Planned Parenthood. Among her many volunteer activities, she developed a local hospice organization to care for cancer patients and is very active with First Presbyterian Church of Wooster. She is described by her colleagues as the "most humble, generous, compassionate human being." When asked what was the driving force behind her years of volunteer work, Dr. Startzman stated, "I think everyone has a right to health care, good health care, just as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The Pride in the Profession Awards honor domestic physicians who aid underserved populations in the United States.

Joyce D. Kirkland Essien, M.D., M.B.A. Atlanta

Joyce D. Kirkland Essien, M.D. serves as the Director of the Center for Public Health Practice at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; and is a commissioned officer at the rank of Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Essien currently leads a team in collaboration with the Sustainability Institute that is building and applying simulation and syndemic modeling applications to diabetes to inform cross sectoral strategy, deliberation and decision support for policy formulation and strategic interventions at national, state and local levels to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes. She is co-author of The Public Health Competency Handbook - Optimizing Individual and Organizational Performance for the Public's Health. The ZAP Asthma Consortium, Inc., co- founded by Dr. Essien, is a community health worker model for community based asthma intervention, and this program is the recipient of the Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter Partnership Award. Among her many volunteer activities, she most recently established a not-for-profit foundation for the Carver Early College School, the first small school concept implemented within the Atlanta Public School System.

Murli Manohar, M.D., Ph.D., FACP Canton, Ohio

Murli Manohar, M.D. has dedicated much of his career to community service and political advocacy. He co-founded the Canton Community Clinic, a free clinic for the uninsured population and also volunteered to establish about a dozen other free clinics in Ohio. After realizing that fear of malpractice litigation was hurting the Clinic's ability to recruit volunteer physicians, he helped develop legislation adopted in Ohio that gives malpractice immunity to physicians working in free clinics. He was also instrumental in creating the Ohio legislation that allows people to donate unused, unexpired medications in their original sealed packages to Ohio free clinics. Dr. Manohar was appointed to the Ohio State Commission on Minority Health, and in this capacity, has shaped many laws and ideas regarding the indigent and minority population of Ohio.

G. Scott Morris, M.D., MDiv Memphis, Tenn.

G. Scott Morris, M.D. is the founder and executive director of the faith-based nonprofit Church Health Center. The Center opened in 1987 to provide quality, affordable healthcare for working, uninsured people and their families, as well as the homeless population. Thanks to a broad base of financial support from the faith community, and the volunteer help of doctors, nurses, dentists and others, the Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the country. Currently, the Center cares for 50,000 patients of record without relying on government funding. Through their onsite wellness facility, the Hope and Healing Center, patients are educated on health promotion and disease management and encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices. As many as twenty-five such clinics in the U.S. have been patterned after the Center. Regarding the health care services provided by the Center, Dr. Morris has stated, "Our criteria is to provide the same quality that you would expect your mother to receive. And I think for the most part we do that."

As the philanthropic arm of the American Medical Association, the AMA Foundation is committed to advancing healthcare in America through programs in medical education, research and public health. For more information, please visit or call (312) 464-4200.

SOURCE American Medical Association
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