Dr. George Smith Takes Helm at the Florida Academy of Family Physicians
Medical Director of Escambia Community Clinics will be the compassfor critical healthcare issues in Florida
Jacksonville, FL, December 16, 2011–The Florida Academy of Family Physicians announced that George A.W. Smith, MD, FAAFP of Pensacola, will take the helm as President of the Academy. Dr. Smith is currently the Medical Director of Escambia Community Clinics, where the mission is to provide compassionate care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Under his leadership, Escambia Community Clinics became a federally qualified community health center four years ago, growing from one clinic to five and now serving more than 28,000 patients.
“Dr. Smith is the right person at the right place at the right time,” said Dr. Dennis Mayeaux, FAFP Board Chair and Associate Professor and Clerkship Director in Family Medicine for the Florida State University College of Medicine in Pensacola.
Dr. Mayeaux continued, “Dr. Smith has served as Medical Director for the Escambia Community Clinics for 17 years. That clinic is the cornerstone for indigent care in the community. As individuals have lost their jobs and subsequently their insurance, he’s had to serve an increasing number of people. With his ground-level experience, he’ll be a compass to guide those at a policy level.”
Originally from Jamaica, Dr. Smith attended the University of the West Indies where he graduated with honors in Community Health. He did a rotating internship and worked in ambulatory care at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas, before serving his family medicine residency at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. There, Dr. Smith was selected as Most Outstanding Intern and served as Chief Resident.
Dr. Smith is board certified in family medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. His achievements include selection as the 2006 Family Physician of the Year by his colleagues at the FAFP for “exemplifying, in the tradition of Family Medicine, a compassionate commitment to improving the health and well being of patients and communities in Florida.”
I’m very mission-oriented and like to think of my work as Medical Director of Escambia Community Clinics as my mission. For me, I want to be the best physician that I can be for my patients,” said Dr. Smith. “Escambia Community Clinics originated when the county hospital closed. Both area not for profit hospitals (Sacred Heart Health System and Baptist Health Care) started this clinic to provide care for the under served. We have both urgent care and primary care for chronic disease management. We’re a medical home for many patients who would otherwise have no where else to go.”
Before coming to Escambia Community Clinics, Dr. Smith was a Captain for two years at the 88th Fighter Hospital at Holloman Air force Base in New Mexico. He currently serves on the FSU College of Medicine Community Board for the Pensacola Regional Campus and is a Board Member and Past President of the Northwest Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC). He was appointed to the Escambia County Legislative Task Force on indigent care and continued on the Access Escambia Board after the task forced was dissolved. In addition to the FAFP, he is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, the Florida Medical Association, and the Escambia County Medical Society.
His patients are what he enjoys most about his work as a family physician. “I love patient care and empowering patients to maintain their own health. I enjoy the interaction with patients, talking with them and learning about their struggles and successes. Family medicine challenges me diagnostically and enables me to develop relationships over time. Family physicians take care of a person’s total needs and I don’t think there’s any other specialty that allows that breadth of scope.”
In addition to indigent care, his advocacy goals for 2012include addressing the physician shortages in Florida. “The good news is that within the last 10 years we’ve added three new medical schools. Our hope is to keep these students here when they graduate by expanding our family medicine residency programs in Florida,” he said.
Another advocacy goal involves impending healthcare reform.“My goal is to promote training and support for our members regarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). I think it’s increasingly important to work collaboratively and the FAFP plans to assist our membership with educational programs about the new healthcare reform. We will continue to investigate opportunities to work with our allied healthcare providers and promote the family physician-led team.”
In addition to his service as Medical Director of Escambia Community Clinics, Dr. Smith has been on medical mission trips to Mexico, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Cairo where he was recognized by the Governor of Giza. He is a Courtesy Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Florida and Florida State University and is a preceptor for medical students, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. He attends Liberty Church where he is a ministering elder and serves in hospitality. He is married to wife Maxine and has four children and one grandchild.
For the future, Dr. Smith says, “I would certainly love to go on more mission trips but I think I will always see patients and be involved in patient care. I have a patient who will be 100 years old and several patients in their 90’s. We’ve been together for a long while. That’sthe beautyof family medicine!”