Grady Health System Assistant Chief of Internal Medicine and Emory University School of Medicine Professor H. Kenneth Walker, M.D., was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Annual Meeting on Nov. 11. Dr. Walker, who was the only individual statewide to receive the award, was recognized for his nearly 60 years of dedication to health care through his work at Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University School of Medicine.
Dr. Walker began his medical career at Emory and Grady, earning his M.D. from the Emory School of Medicine and completing his house staff training in internal medicine and neurology at Emory beginning in 1958. He completed his post-graduate training at Grady Memorial Hospital in 1971 and began serving as its assistant chief of medicine, a position he still holds today.
In addition to his skills as a physician, Dr. Walker is also extremely dedicated to the education and training of future medical students. For nearly 40 years, he has served as a professor of medicine and associate professor of neurology at Emory University and for more than 30 years, he directed the school’s Clerkship program, in which medical students function as primary caregivers for patients under the direction of faculty. He still rounds six months per year on the inpatient wards, and has personally trained more internal medicine residents than any other physician at Emory, and possibly in the state of Georgia. Thanks to his strong mentorship skills, numerous medicine residents have learned valuable lessons about dedication, professionalism and how to provide patient-centered medical care. Several graduates of the Emory medicine program are currently practicing at hospitals throughout Georgia, and many hold critical leadership positions.
Not limiting himself to patient care in the United States, for nearly 25 years, Dr. Walker has led the efforts of the Atlanta-Tbilisi Healthcare Partnership. Established in 1992, it is a collaboration between institutions in the Republic of Georgia and their Atlanta counterparts, which include Emory University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Georgia State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Grady Memorial Hospital and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Devastated by civil war and economic crisis after the disbanding of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Georgia’s health care and medical education system were in dire need of a transformation, leading to the Atlanta-Tbilisi-Healthcare Partnership. Dr. Walker’s efforts have had a major impact on training of medical and nursing students in Georgia. Since its inception, Dr. Walker has been instrumental in aiding the country and improving its quality of health care through several endeavors over the years, including the National Information Learning System, which gives Georgian health care professionals the ability to access medical books and journals through the internet. Health needs and inequities in Georgia have been assessed by more than 20 teams of Emory faculty and staff who have traveled there over the years. Two grants, led by Dr. Walker, helped establish emergency medicine as a specialty and improve the nursing profession in the country. Today, Dr. Walker is leading efforts to address a rampant endemic problem of hepatitis C among the Republic of Georgia population. He is working with the Ministry of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the manufacturer of a popular hepatitis C treatment to work on treating the more than 1 million residents with hepatitis C. This is more than 20 percent of the total population of the Republic of Georgia, but Dr. Walker has taken on the challenge of treating every single person in hopes of breaking the epidemic.
“Dr. Walker is a remarkable physician whose outstanding career has positively affected the lives of countless individuals in and out of the United States,” said GHA President Earl Rogers. “He is an extraordinary role model for all of us and is most deserving of this award.”
The video created for the award ceremony is on YouTube.
Founded in 1929, GHA serves more than 170 hospitals in Georgia and promotes the health and welfare of the public through the development of better hospital care for all Georgia’s citizens. The mission of GHA is to advance the health of individuals and communities by serving as the leading advocate for all Georgia hospitals and health care systems. GHA represents its members before the General Assembly and Congress, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies, and is an allied member of the American Hospital Association. For more information, please call 770-249-4500 or visit gha.org.