Dr. Arthur M. Fournier Honored for Volunteerism and Community Service

Arthur M. Fournier, M.D., professor and vice chair of family medicine and community health, who for decades has brought primary health care to underserved communities from South Florida to Haiti, was honored by the American College of Physicians with the 2012 Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service.

“I’m a little worried about receiving this lifetime award,” Fournier quipped about the award presented April 19 at the college’s convocation ceremony in New Orleans. “Perhaps they know something I don’t know.”

Established in 1998 in honor of Oscar E. Edwards, M.D., former governor and regent of the American College of Physicians, the award recognizes an ACP member who has initiated or been involved in volunteer programs or has provided volunteer service post-training.

In his letter nominating Fournier for the recognition, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School, said there is no individual more deserving.

“He has played an incredible role in the commitment to global health, and I am honored to have Dr. Fournier as a colleague,” the Dean wrote. “The unprecedented example he leads and his dedication to humanity have inspired a generation of medical students.”

Fournier has always been a passionate advocate for improving health care in the community. Since joining the Miller School in 1978, he helped create several public clinics to bring preventive and primary health care to underserved patients in South Florida and established free health fairs in several underserved communities in Miami-Dade County.

Under his leadership, the Miller School has received numerous grants to support the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative, which now offers free health care to children in eight Miami-Dade public schools. Fournier also is director of the Area Health Education Center Program, which treats more than 50,000 medically underserved people each year.

“There are very few physicians in our midst who have accomplished as much as Dr. Fournier has in his 30-plus-year career, or who have demonstrated such an extraordinary ability to not only volunteer their personal time, but to be a shining lighthouse and beacon for generations of medical students and residents,” said Robert Schwartz, M.D., professor and chair of family medicine and community health, in a supporting letter.

Fournier, who co-founded Project Medishare in 1994, also has left an indelible mark internationally, particularly through his dedication to the people of Haiti.

Under Fournier’s leadership, and that of other faculty, Medishare has immeasurably improved the delivery of health care in this hemisphere’s poorest nation, working with Haitian counterparts to fix cleft palates, deliver primary care, provide clean drinking water and screen for diseases. For decades he has led medical students on medical missions to Haiti.

Medishare was also instrumental in providing medical care before and after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Nearly 6,000 medical volunteers treated more than 30,000 patients and performed more than 1,500 surgeries at the field hospital, which continues to operate at a more permanent community hospital, so far treating 45,000 more patients.

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