Matthew Walker Celebrates Legacy, Honors Community Leaders


Matthew Walker Celebrates Legacy, Honors Community Leaders | Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, MWCHC, Dr. Matthew Walker, Stephaine Walker, Henry Foster, Michelle B. Marrs, Bathsheba Wariso, Katina Beard

Last month, healthcare industry and community leaders gathered for the Second Annual Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. Legacy Breakfast at the Cal Turner Family Center at Meharry Medical College.

The event was hosted by the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), which has served the Nashville community continuously since 1968 and has extended services through locations in Clarksville and Smyrna. The state's first Federally Qualified Health Center, MWCHC provides primary medical care, behavioral health services, dental care, pharmacy services and health education to more than 17,000 patients annually.

After an invocation by Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr., PhD (D-Dist. 58), CEO Katina Beard addressed the full house to provide a brief update on MWCHC's signature programs and significant accomplishments over the past year, including announcement of a new 38-foot mobile medical unit that will allow the center to extend its reach into the community.

Stephanie Bailey, MD

Public health icon Stephanie Bailey, MD, delivered the keynote address focused on scholarship, leadership and service, followed by the inaugural awards presentations. The Michelle B. Mars Health Care Advocate Award, named for the visionary former CEO of MWCHC, was presented to Stephaine Walker, MD, a fellowship-trained neonatologist who helped establish ChurchFIT. The program, initially launched to help Mt. Zion Baptist Church's 30,000 congregants improve fitness and increase health awareness, has now spread internationally.

Stephaine Walker, MD

The Dr. Matthew Walker Sr. Legacy Award was presented to Henry Foster, MD. Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the School of Medicine for Meharry College, Foster also served as a clinical professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt during his long, distinguished career. Foster studied under and worked alongside Walker, and both are inducted members of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.

Henry Foster, MD

"Both Dr. Foster and Dr. Walker exemplify the advocacy and care for the community previously championed by Dr. Walker and Michelle B. Marrs," said Beard. "We are honored to give them these awards for the incredible work they've accomplished in Nashville."

Bathsheba Wariso

In addition, Sandra Long Weaver, board chair-elect for MWCHC, presented the Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. Scholarship award to Bathsheba Wariso, a third year Meharry medical student and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Scholar. Metro District 19 Councilman Freddie O'Connell stepped to the stage to unveil a new historic marker that will soon be installed near the health center, and MWCHC Board Chair Valisa Thompson offered closing remarks.

In addition to the awards and keynote address, the breakfast event serves as an opportunity to support the center's mission through donations. Nearly three-quarters of the patients served by the non-profit organization are identified as a racial and/or ethnic minority, a little over 90 percent of those seen by providers fall at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and nearly 65 percent of patients are uninsured.