In The Beginning

By the time you read this, the United States Supreme Court most likely will have ruled on the constitutionality of the current administration’s federal healthcare law. But whether you favor or oppose “Obamacare,” one thing is certain. However the Supreme Court decides, healthcare issues will remain in the forefront of American politics for years if not decades to come. 

Healthcare is much more than a political football, of course; it’s a fundamental part of our everyday existence. Sooner or later, medical issues end up playing a prominent part in all of our lives. Here in the Memphis office, we recently got a not-so-gentle reminder of just how prominent, as literally every member of our editorial staff was dealing with a major medical issue involving himself or a loved one as we were putting together this year’s “Top Docs” issue. Given the staff’s personal distractions, it’s something of a minor medical miracle that this particular July issue of Memphis has gotten itself published!

My own recent healthcare crisis has involved being the primary caregiver for an elderly parent, living far away and coping with a soon-to-be terminal illness. Needless to say, this hasn’t been a fun process, but I’ve come away from this whirlwind exposure to the nuts and bolts of modern medicine — dealing with a plethora of doctors, home healthcare/hospice providers, visiting nurses, oncology clinics, and so forth — with one abiding thought. Almost without exception, every medical professional that I’ve encountered has been just that: thoroughly and relentlessly professional. 

And, I might add, unfailingly kind. I have been astonished at how so many healthcare professionals I encounter are able to deal with an endless stream of humanity, and yet still are able to treat each individual patient they encounter with grace and dignity. I’m not sure I could come close to matching their capacity to cope with calamity with anything resembling such good humor.

So this year’s “Top Docs” issue is something extra-special to those of us on the Memphis staff who find ourselves in the deep end of the healthcare pool this particular summer. This year marks the seventh consecutive year that we have partnered with the New York-based Castle Connolly research group to identify and salute the best medical practitioners in a wide variety of fields in our community, as selected by what is, quite literally, a jury of their peers.

Every year, we list the doctors so honored — this year’s group includes 92 specialists in 49 different fields — to give our readers a sense of the individuals whom the Memphis medical community regards as its superstars. The Castle Connolly survey is not intended to suggest that these particular doctors are better than their thousands of colleagues here in the Mid-South, but simply that these “top docs” are well regarded in this community for their efforts in providing cutting-edge medical research, first-rate clinical expertise, and innovative patient care.

Speaking of innovative patient care, we are happy in this issue also to salute the Church Health Center on the occasion of that organization’s twenty-fifth anniversary (p. 32). Under the capable longtime leadership of Dr. Scott Morris, this community institution is now the largest single medical care-provider for uninsured patients in the entire country. Indeed, the Church Health Center has become a model for how such care may be provided efficiently and effectively, even in the most economically challenging of situations. 

And as we continue as a nation to face considerable economic challenges as regards healthcare delivery systems, we can count ourselves lucky here in Memphis that our city remains a major medical center, a place where talented and committed men and women are doing truly great work on every imaginable level. Here’s to our health!

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