Physicians honored for efforts to provide care to poor patients

Robert Nagler Miller , Contributing News Writer

For their commitment to the health of their communities and humanitarian efforts to provide care to vulnerable populations, several physicians received Excellence in Medicine Awards from the AMA Foundation at the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Two Florida physicians, David M. Klein, MD, and James N. Burt, MD, received the AMA Foundation’s Award for Excellence in Volunteerism. A Colorado physician and medical educator, Jennifer E. Adams, MD, earned the Dr. Debasish Mrdiha Spirit of Medicine Award for the Selfless Elimination of Human Suffering.

The awards were bestowed June 9 as part of the Excellence in Medicine program at the Annual Meeting. The program was made possible, in part, through the support of Pfizer Inc., the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Novo Nordisk Inc.

David M. Klein, MD

An ophthalmologist for more than three decades, Dr. Klein founded the Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic in Port Charlotte, Florida, which provides free medical, pharmacy and wellness services to underserved patients.

In addition to serving as the clinic’s volunteer medical director, Dr. Klein has given of his time to many other medical and charitable organizations. Concerned about the rise of hepatitis C in his region, he and another physician partnered with public and private entities to establish the Hope Clinic, which offers free services to prevent and treat hepatitis C. The clinic has a 90 percent-plus cure rate. As part of the award, the volunteer clinic will receive a $2,500 grant.

James N. Burt, MD

A retired urologist and U. S. Air Force veteran who served his country as a flight surgeon, Dr. Burt led the effort to create in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, the Volunteers in Medicine clinic. The clinic has provided free community health care to the city’s poor and uninsured residents for the past 17 years.

Over this time, the clinic has developed specialty care programs, with 11 subspecialties overseen by 200-plus volunteer physicians, nurses and counselors. To date, the clinic has served more than 8,000 residents. The Volunteers in Medicine clinic will receive a $2,500 grant in recognition of Dr. Burt’s award.

Jennifer E. Adams, MD

A general internist in Denver and an associate professor at the University of Colorado’s medical school, Dr. Adams is director and founder of the Denver Health Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship. The program enables third-year medical students to immerse themselves in a safety-net setting for their clinical training.

Through the clerkship, students can care for vulnerable populations and gain insights into humanism in medicine and health equity and advocacy. Students also often emerge with a stronger commitment to working with marginalized, underserved patient communities. The general internal medicine department at Denver Health, where Dr. Adams works, will receive a $2,500 grant in honor of her award.

In addition to the three named awards, the AMA Foundation recognized 27 medical students as recipients of its Excellence in Medicine Minority Scholar Awards, which awards $10,000  scholarships to each recipient. The foundation also named 15 medical students, residents, fellows and early-career physicians as recipients of its Excellence in Medicine Leadership Awards, honoring those who have exhibited outstanding leadership in community service, education, public health or organized medicine.

Read more news coverage from the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting.