By Peter Curran, MD, SFMS President. Adapted from the President's Message in the July/August 2012 issue of San Francisco Medicine.
Your San Francisco Medical Society is sponsoring the American Heart Association Heart Walk in Golden Gate Park on September 15. The executive committee of the SFMS Board voted unanimously to sponsor a booth at the event to showcase organized medicine's commitment to local health improvement efforts. Volunteers and survivors representing several local hospitals will walk a scenic three-mile course in Golden Gate Park to raise awareness for fighting heart disease. An additional benefit of supporting the walk is the message it gives the community about physicians' resolve in advocating for health in our own neighborhoods. Much appreciation for the work of Dr. Shannon Udovic-Constant, Ms. Jessica Kuo, and the membership committee at SFMS in organizing this and other community-related activities.
Community service is not new to organized medicine in California. The SFMS membership has pioneers in local community advocacy. The San Francisco Free Clinic, founded in 1994 by SFMS members Tricia Hellman Gibbs, MD, and Richard Gibbs, MD, was awarded the Public Health Heroes Award for Health Care Delivery in 2006 for its service in providing medical care to the uninsured “working poor” in San Francisco. In addition to providing a vital service to the community, the clinic has given primary care training to young physicians and students from several medical schools, including UCSF. Similarly, SFMS member Marcus Conant, MD, one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS patients in 1981, founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and, later, the Conant Foundation, which expanded AIDS awareness to the legislative arena on behalf of patients. Adam Schickedanz, MD, a UCSF pediatric resident, started the Financial Fitness Program at San Francisco General, which provides crucial financial information and services to underserved patients with needs that go beyond health issues. Schickedanz’s program was awarded a $10,000 grant by the SFMS and the San-Cop Foundation and continues to grow.
At a time when organized medicine is struggling to remain relevant in the midst of health care delivery reform, perhaps it is simplistic to think that participating in a local Heart Walk will change medicine’s fortunes or even grow membership within SFMS. But public health and advocacy, which remain tenets of our mission at SFMS, are relevant regardless of the political climate of the times if they are done with conviction in support of the greater community benefit.
That is why we walk. Please lace up your walking shoes and join me on September 15 in Golden Gate Park. Training recommended but not required.
Click here for more information about SFMS' participation of the Golden Gate Heart Walk and ways you can get involved.