Dr. H. Jack Geiger Medical Center opens
by Anne Hart Preus
Aug 19, 2014 | 3567 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cutting the ribbon for the opening of the H. Jack Geiger Medical Center in Mound Bayou are (from left) Douglas Blackmon, Rebecca Onie, John Fairman, Dr. H. Jack Geiger, Dr. Robert Smith and Dr. Andrew James.
Cutting the ribbon for the opening of the H. Jack Geiger Medical Center in Mound Bayou are (from left) Douglas Blackmon, Rebecca Onie, John Fairman, Dr. H. Jack Geiger, Dr. Robert Smith and Dr. Andrew James.
slideshow
Several hundred people gathered Saturday to officially open the Dr. H. Jack Geiger Medical Center in Mound Bayou.

The Center is an affiliate of the Delta Health Center, Inc.

The Presentation of Colors by the Gentry High School ROTC from Indianola and the singing of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by the Lampton St. Church of Christ choir opened the program.

CEO John Fairman welcomed the crowd and acknowledged special guests.

Geri Adams from Congressman Bennie Thompson 's office and Miles Russell from Sen. Roger Wicker's office gave greetings.

Madeline Fairman and Minhye Parks, fourth grade violinists, and Anne-Gaelle Ravetto, international violinist performed musical selections.

Dan Hawkins Jr., who is the senior vice-president for Policy and Research at the National Association of Community Health Centers, Inc. in Bethesda, Md., paid tribute to Geiger as the creator of a powerful movement for health care.

Hawkins said, "Dr. Geiger got the ball rolling. His vision is still 20/20 when it comes to community owned and operated health care. He saw a system of health care in South Africa and asked why it couldn’t happen here."

Rebecca Onie, co-founder and chief executive officer for Health Leads, Inc. in Boston, Mass., reflected on how conversations with Geiger had changed her life as well as the delivery of health services.

Onie said, "Dr. Geiger wrote prescriptions for food and said the cure for malnutrition was to feed people."

"Geiger planted the mustard seed in 1964 and it has grown into trees affecting health care around the world," said Dr. Robert Smith, executive director of Central Mississippi Health Services, Inc. in Jackson.

Smith thanked John Fairman and the board of Directors for naming the Health Center for Geiger.

Andrew James, assistant professor and department Chair of Health Administration with the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, spoke about the conditions he found when Geiger had brought him to Mound Bayou years ago.

"We had to train people in environmental techniques to have safe water so they could get healthy and stay healthy," said James.

Douglas Blackmon, Pulitzer-prize winning author of "Slavery by Another Name" talked about growing up in Leland and asking questions about why things were better for white kids.

"It took courage and fortitude for Dr. Geiger to stick to his beliefs about health care in a time when things got bad for a reason and they got good for a reason," said Blackmon. "We have choices either to be on the right side and take action or not and and Dr. Geiger chose the right side.

"Dr. Geiger's courage is no less fierce today," said Blackmon.

Geiger's vision for community health centers was a result of his involvement with the Medical Committee for Human Rights and his experience working in a community health center in South Africa.

Geiger, along with the late Dr. Count Gibson, established the first two Federally Qualified Community Health Centers in the nation: Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou and Columbia Point in Boston, Massachusetts.

The establishment of these two centers led to more than 1200 community health centers serving over 22 million people in the United States.

The Delta Health Center was incorporated in 1965 with Geiger serving as the center's first project director.

Geiger spoke about those who were involved in the early years and the sacrifices they made. "This was a collective effort involving so many," he said. "Bob Smith was one of those who put his life on the line again and again."

"Looking back, I have been the one who has been enriched beyond measure," said Geiger. "I made friendships for life with those who understood what was possible. They were charged to make change and had the courage to go on.

"I am pleased to announce that next summer students in the medical profession will have an opportunity to train here through the National Medical Fellowship funded by the GE Foundation," said Geiger.

NMF is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the pipeline of minority physicians and health professional.

Following Geiger's remarks, John Fairman unveiled a large portrait of Geiger. Fairman and speakers along with Geiger cut the ribbon officially opening the H. Jack Geiger Medical Center.