Let's Hear It for Heroes

Let’s Hear It for Heroes

In a recent Memphis Business Journal “Healthcare Heroes” competition, the UT Health Science Center walked away with the lion’s share of the awards. Because Memphis is such a widely recognized medical center, the awards are quite competitive. Every healthcare entity in Memphis can make nominations in six categories. Winners are selected by a panel of judges representing a cross section of Memphis businesses. Five of the six major award winners were members of the UTHSC faculty.

Dr. Roger Hiatt, Lifetime Achievement

Hiatt’s 44-year career as an ophthalmologist has been a testimony to service, both in teaching and medical missionary work. Besides hundreds of students trained while he was chairman of the ophthalmology department for 30 years at UTHSC, Hiatt has taught doctors around the world through his educational missionary trips. He has trained residents in ophthalmology in both hemispheres–in Mexico and Guatemala, as well as the Philippines, China, Egypt, and Sudan.

Dr. Waletha Wasson, Community Outreach

Wasson’s focus on underserved populations and her leadership have convinced volunteers from the UTHSC College of Dentistry to donate their time to touch the lives of more than 3,700 people at 84 different venues. Through the “Tennessee Smiles: UT Grass Roots Oral Health Outreach Initiative,” which Wasson spearheaded in 2003, she has organized or participated in more than 50 health and career fairs within the Memphis community.

Dr. Barbara Connolly, Healthcare Provider/Non-Physician

As an internationally known professor of physical therapy, Connolly regularly reaches out far beyond the classroom to make an impact on the Mid-South region. She cofounded the Down Parents of Memphis (now Down Syndrome Association of the Mid-South), served on the advisory committee of the West Tennessee United Cerebral Palsy Association, and during her 33-year tenure, has been the pediatric consultant for many school systems. As chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy at UTHSC, Connolly has helped shape the boundaries of the physical therapy field.

Dr. James Dale, Healthcare Innovations

Dale, who is also associate chief of staff for education at the VA Medical Center in Memphis, has for more than 25 years researched the development of a vaccine for group A streptococci. Strep can cause everything from a mild sore throat to toxic shock syndrome to rheumatic fever, a disease that kills 1,400 people every day worldwide. Dale has developed a vaccine that promises to curtail strep and prevent its deadly effects. He refers to the vaccine, StrepAvax, as the most complex genetically engineered vaccine ever designed for human use. It has the ability to prevent 90 percent of serious strep A infections and 21 million cases of rheumatic fever a year.

Dr. Stanley Kaplan, Healthcare Provider/Physician

Kaplan, professor of medicine, received this award because of his devotion to patients, many of whom travel across the country to be treated by him for crippling arthritis. More than 95 percent of those patients rate their experience with him as “exceptional.” This year he received the Tennessee Rheumatology Society’s first President’s Award and was once again named to “The Best Doctors in America,” a peer-ranked national list.