CAIRO — Cairo family physician Dr. Linda I. Walden is the new president of the Georgia State Medical Association. Walden was installed during the group’s 121st Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly at the Omni Oceanfront Hilton Head Resort recently.
“We are excited about her reign, although there will be healthcare challenges for physicians, we think we’ve chosen a great leader,” says Dr. Sylvester McRae, an obstetrician/gynocologist from Columbus who sits on the association’s board of directors and is a past president of the group. McRae is also married to a Whigham native, the former Rose Hunter.
The Georgia State Medical Association was founded in 1893, and is the second largest African American state medical association in the United States; it is an affiliate of the National Medical Association.
Dr. Gloria Frelix, a radiation oncologist in North Carolina and a region chair for the National Medical Association, was at Walden’s installation service in Hilton Head. Frelix says Walden and the state medical association will be in close communication with Georgia legislators about the condition of communities. She says the association encourages mentoring, also, to shore up the frailty of families.
“We want to be role models to let kids know they too can become a doctor. A lot of kids feel the quick and easy money is best,” Frelix says. She says Dr. Walden and others in the association can help fill in the knowledge gaps for parents and teach them about healthy lifestyles and the importance of education.
Walden will serve a two-year term as association president, and she outlined her agenda during an inaugural address titled, “A Changing Paradigm in Healthcare; With God, Georgia State Medical Association will Make a Difference.” She made the speech during an awards dinner, which was preceded by an inaugural reception attended by many guests on hand in honor of the occasion.
In her address, Walden stressed “the importance of physicians becoming politically proactive with health policies and helping to bring about access to healthcare to all citizens of Georgia.”
She said, “While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made it possible for many to get access to healthcare, the poor are still left out and can’t get Obamacare because federal dollars given to the State of Georgia to cover their healthcare has been refused by our state government. So many of the poor will die prematurely. This is America and no state should be doing this to its citizens. When we improve access to healthcare for all citizens, we improve the economy of our state….Georgia State Medical Association is about promoting health and disease prevention not a political football game.”
Of the 35,000 physicians in Georgia, she said only about 1,200 are African Americans, and she said fostering an interest in medical studies among youth is important.
Walden, a family physician, is medical director of Cairo Family Medical Center, Inc., in Cairo.