Article by Ozzy Samad
As you may have seen from the many articles in this newsletter over the last year, BBF has made a concerted effort to assist members of our own community in our collective efforts to combat COVID-19. Our local response, which has included providing PPE to many healthcare organizations and front-line responders along with community organizations such as foodbanks and eldercare facilities, has complemented BBF’s steadfastly expanding relief work both domestically and around the world.
The tremendously positive response to these local efforts gave us an insight into the impact we were helping make in the community and brought to the forefront the unmet healthcare needs of so many underserved community members. It became increasingly evident that though we may well have one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, for a multitude of reasons, there are many areas of care that warrant our attention. In the indomitable spirit of BBF’s founder Dr. Robert Hingson, the question then became what else could we do to help our neighbors and make a greater impact in our own community?
BBF’s Chair Tom Wentling met Dr. William Simmons at a virtual event where they both were to speak about their areas of interest. Dr. Simmons is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh, along with fulfilling his role as an Anesthesiologist at Shady Side hospital. Perhaps unsurprisingly given his passion for BBF, Tom wrote a heartfelt piece about the organization’s history and the accomplishments of Dr. Hingson and his colleagues. Dr. Simmons wrote about his research on the infamous Tuskegee experiments along with other similar events including one especially egregious case in Guatemala.
Passionate about addressing healthcare issues in underserved communities and expressing an interest in BBF’s work, Dr. Simmons visited our facilities on the North Side. Tom kindly joined the meeting, and we had an extensive discussion about BBF’s programs and projects. Dr. Simmons concurrently provided an overview of his own work to help in-need community members, with a focus on the impact of diabetes in particular. His goals include addressing healthcare issues in the Wilkinsburg and broader Western Pennsylvania region.
Given BBF’s own local efforts and desire to continue to serve our community, these discussions led to follow up calls to explore how we could work together. I am pleased to say that with BBF Advisory Board Member, Dr. Jenny Yu’s collaboration, we are planning on providing supplies and equipment for a diabetes and eye screening clinic to be held at Dr. Simmons new community medical facility in the Wilkinsburg area. You may recall that BBF previously supported Dr. Yu’s Project Theia clinics in Ghana and India also. Given our common interests and passion for service, we are delighted to say that Dr. Simmons will be joining BBF’s Board of Trustees in April.
Thank you for your ongoing support and allowing us to fulfill our mission to serve those in need!