Dr. Cedric Bright Inaugural Speech: “We Are Bridge Builders”

Cedric Bright(BlackDoctor.org) — Your confidence bestowed me as your 112th President is one of the greatest honors of my life. I will uphold this office with dignity and integrity to accomplish the mission of our great organization. For this generous bestowing of trust, and for an even greater opportunity for partnership, I thank you.

Let me take you back to when I arrived back home after being elected to the office of president elect. I’d just arrived back home in Durham, NC. Our front door closed behind me, I pushed my suitcase aside and called out to my wife, Maria, “Where are you? Can you come here?” Just then Drew, my son, ran to me and gave his usual salute, better known as a “Daddy pick me up”. As my wife rounded the corner, I asked her to have a seat. My question to my wife, “Are we ready for the awesome challenge to our family that we take on when I become NMA President? What about the travel and significant time I?ll spend away from you and Drew?” She looked at me and asked said, are you? “As long as we do this together.”

That was almost a year ago and my family remains the strong anchor of my life. This evening, instilled with the belief that the NMA has a leadership role in the world that cannot be minimized, and that our organization will rise, along with my faith in God will continue to be the voice of advocacy for physicians and the patients we serve.

I am committed to the ideals of this great organization. As the 112th President of the National Medical Association, I pledge to be honest, truthful, a listener, a partner, a seeker of collaborative opportunity, a builder of bridges to people, and organization with similar goals for resources to pursue health equity.

Let me share with you words from William Allen Dromgoole:

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway
Came at the evening cold and gray, to a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
That sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength in building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

Yes, my fellow members and supports of NMA, I do plan on building a bridge to a healthier world. Health care in America is replete with fractured policies and practices all of which are further compounded by a tumultuous economic and political climate. As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, it will ensure access to care for millions of Americans. Health care reform is happening in America and it prompts the NMA into the role of change agents who actively seek improved health for all Americans equalities in health care. Dr. Martin Luther King declared “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

As physicians and health care providers, we often see economic challenges of which many individuals have little to no control; yet, these conditions determine one?s access, quality of the care, and ultimately can be the difference between life and death.

Diamonte Drive, an eleven year old in need of an $80.00 tooth extraction. A child, living with his mother and other siblings in a homeless shelter, he has little to no financial resources. His mother had made numerous attempts to get dental care for her child, but to no avail. Diamante’s tooth abscessed, the infection spread to his brain and the little boy became very ill. Finally, he received medical care and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on surgery and treatment only after the massive infection. Despite the late stage aggressive care, an eleven boy died as a result of not having an $80.00 extraction. Will we forget him?

Many of you in here could tell a similar story of patients and perhaps family members can illustrate the need for safety net programs; programs often referred to as entitlement programs. These programs are a necessity and humane injustice and discrimination derived from ones racial and ethnic identity, educational status and socioeconomic status must continually be combated.

I must emphasize, inequitable health care does not discriminate. One may have a great paying job, top of the line health insurance coverage, possess several degrees, be of great standing in your community and care must BE EQUITABLE, equal is not enough!

Few of the programs that the NMA endorses are new initiatives; to the contrary, they build upon the rich found at our already laid by our predecessors and supported by our House of Delegates. We will continue the HIV AIDS, diabetes, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, clinical issues that face our patients, and others. The NMA is a membership organization which ultimately is as strong as its members.

As a member of this great organization; I challenge you my fellow members to “Give me Five”. Here is what I mean:

A) Say five positive points about the organization to someone each month.

B) Introduce five medical professionals to the organization over the next five months.

C) Encourage five young people to participate in the health care exposure opportunities each month.

D) Volunteer five hours of community service each month.

E) Send five ideas to improve our association and to enhance our mission during the time of my presidency.

Can you, will you – “Give me Five”?

I want to thank you for the trust you have invested in me to be your 112th president. In my parting words for you is from one of my favorite literary works, slightly modified.

God Bless you, God Bless the NMA, and God Bless America.