Breakfast celebrates Matthew Walker as Center observes 50 Years of Service

l-r Rev Kelly Miller Smith Sr, Sidney Poitier, and Dr Matthew Walker Sr.

A celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. benefitting Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center will be held on Thursday, April 12th, 2018 from 7:30 a.m to 9:00 a.m. at The Cal Turner Family Center on the campus of Meharry Medical College, at 1011 – 21st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37208. The breakfast will feature a keynote address by Dr. Henry Foster, Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the School of Medicine at Meharry College and Clinical Professor of Obsterics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University. Admission is free, while donations will be appreciated.

“We are very excited to continue the vision of Dr. Walker,” stated Katina Beard, Chief Executive Officer. “As we embark on the next 50 years, our goal will remain to serve the entire community with services that improves the health of the community. Current plans are underway to increase access to healthcare for our youth and older adults, and we will be opening a new dental clinic in July.”

Dr. Walker began his medical profession with residencies at Hubbard Hospital of Meharry Medical College and Freedman Hospital of Howard University in Washington, DC. In 1955, he became one of the first African Americans voted into the Nashville Academy of Medicine, and in 1961 was named to the Board of Hospital Commissioners of Nashville General Hospital. Soon after, Dr. Walker was asked to run Taborian Hospital, an African American hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. While travelling between Nashville and Mound Bayou, he noticed the need for similar care in Nashville, where areas of the community were not receiving sufficient healthcare.

“People should be delivered healthcare at a price they can afford to pay,” explained Dr. Walker.

“If they can’t afford to pay anything, they shouldn’t be made to pay anything.”

On March 11, 1968, Dr. Walker opened his first clinic, the Meharry Neighborhood Health Center, on Jefferson Street in Nashville. It was the first federally qualified health center in the state and was staffed by 19 full- and part-time physicians and dentists. The center combined all its medical services under one roof to emphasize family care, a structure that served as a national example for comprehensive health solutions. Two years later, the center was renamed the Matthew Walker Health Center in honor of Dr. Walker and his efforts, and by 1979, the center became a freestanding primary care facility.

MWCHC’s focus offered a wide range of health services including adult and child medical and dental care to the medically underserved people of Davidson County with an emphasis on the maintenance of good health, not simply the treatment of disease. Dr. Matthew Walker Sr. died on July 15, 1978 in Nashville, Tennessee. At the time of his death, he had provided the surgical education to about half of the Black physicians in the United States.

Today, MWCHC has three locations (Nashville, Clarksville, and Smyrna) and employs 107 medical professionals. The centers provide quality and affordable care for all patients — both insured and uninsured — with comprehensive services including family planning, obstetrical care, pediatric care, social services, internal medicine, dental services, radiology services, gynecological care, family practice and behavioral health. MWCHC also has a full-service pharmacy at the Nashville location. MWCHC is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art care to all patients regardless of economic status, with its three facilities reaching almost 17,000 patients a year. From Dr. Walker’s original vision to celebrating its impact 50 years later, MWCHC remains a vital community resource and institution.

Register or RSVP for the breakfast by contacting Cathy Hunt at 615-324-1292. Remember, admission is free/donations are appreciated.

MWCHC will continue to celebrate 50 years of service with these upcoming events: April 14 – Nashville Baby Shower for “Moms to Bee” and those who gave birth in the past 6 months; May 2 – The Big Payback; May 4 – Senior Expo at St. Luke CME Church; August 11 – Community Appreciation Day (Clarksville); August 12-18 – Health Center Week Celebrations (Nashville); August 18 – Pancake Breakfast (Nashville); August 18 – Block Party (Nashville); September 14 – Open House; September 22 – 50th Anniversary Party and Celebration; and Screenings during Breast Cancer Aware-ness Month in October.