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Detroit Physician Among 10 Finalists for J.H. Kanter Prize

EAST LANSING, Mich., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Detroit physician Herbert C. Smitherman, Jr., M.D., has been announced as one of the 10 finalists in the inaugural J.H. Kanter Prize for physicians who have dedicated their medical careers to enhancing health care delivery.

The winners will be announced Tuesday, August 11, in Washington, D.C. The top five will receive cash prizes and national recognition "for their landmark work, their tireless efforts and creativity in developing new systems to eliminate disparities and to optimize health care for more people in the U.S.," according to The Health Legacy Partnership, sponsor of the prize.

Doctor Smitherman, an internal medicine specialist, is president and CEO of Health Centers Detroit Foundation, Inc., which operates three community-based health centers in Detroit.

"While our nation is debating health care reform, Doctor Smitherman has been working under the radar for the past 23 years to improve access to health care and reducing health care disparities for tens of thousands of underserved people in Detroit and Wayne County," said Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) president Richard E. Smith, M.D., a Detroit obstetrician/gynecologist. "Doctor Smitherman and his team have developed a model of care that improves quality and access while reducing cost. He deserves this recognition."

The winning Kanter Prize laureate will receive a $100,000 cash prize while four runners-up will receive $25,000 each. Finalists were selected from nominations from state medical associations. Doctor Smitherman was nominated by MSMS and the Wayne County Medical Society of Southeast Michigan.

These front-line physicians, nominated from across our nation, U.S. Territories and Military, have dedicated themselves to optimizing U.S. health care for all patients, regardless of gender, geography, language, education, religion, employment or insurance, according to The Health Legacy Partnership.

"The Kanter Prize recognizes the true calling of medicine--to deliver health care to those in need," said Alan R. Leff, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "This is both the greatest privilege and highest obligation of a physician. Exceptional individuals who are highly dedicated to this mission in their practice deserve the recognition and admiration of our profession and our society."

Finalists for the J.H. Kanter Prize include:

  • A Catholic sister who began medical school late in life and works to address social factors influencing health. Treats people in the Mississippi Delta region where geographic location limits access to medical care. Has accepted bushels of vegetables in lieu of payment.
  • An Ivy-League educated physician who spent nights as a "street physician" beneath Boston's bridges and subways, offering care targeted to address unique issues of our homeless and providing electronic medical records to facilitate care.
  • A member of the Cheyenne River Sioux, one of less than 500 practicing American Indian physicians. Founded a center that works to develop and improve culturally sensitive care systems, allocating scarce healthcare dollars to align with the pressing needs of his community in South Dakota.

"It was indeed fortunate for all of us that the special souls nominated for the Kanter Prize chose the path of healing," said Sheldon Kottle, M.D., prize developer and CEO of Health Legacy Partnership. "These physicians should be highlighted for devoting their best years to minimizing suffering where it should not exist, and allowing all of society to benefit from their devotion."

The top ten finalists for the J.H. Kanter Prize include:

Alabama - Steven Stokes, M.D.

Alaska - Richard Neubauer, M.D.

California - Steven Kamajian, D.O.

Massachusetts - James O'Connell, M.D.

Michigan - Herbert Smitherman, Jr., M.D.

Mississippi - Sister Anne Brooks, D.O.

Nebraska - David Paulus, M.D.

New York - Neil Calman, M.D.

South Dakota - Jeffrey Henderson, M.D.

U.S. Military - S. Ward Casscells, M.D.

The prize, named for Joseph H. Kanter, a pioneering health care reform advocate for a personal electronic medical database, is sponsored by The Health Legacy Partnership (HELP), a private-public partnership with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For more information about the Kanter Prize, contact Susan Paley at 703-915-6574 or

SOURCE Michigan State Medical Society
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