February 2, 2016
Annual Forum Established to Address Health Care Inequities
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine will host a special endowed lecture event to commemorate the life of a groundbreaking central Illinois physician. The Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD Forum on Health Inequities and Disparities will be an annual discussion of health disparities and other factors that impact population health.
Kenniebrew, a native of Warrior’s Point, Alabama, was the first African-American physician in the United States to build and operate a surgical hospital, the New Home Sanitarium in Jacksonville, Ill., established in 1909. At its peak in the 1920s, the New Home Hospital had 67 rooms, 3 laboratories, 3 surgeons, 8 associated physicians and served patients from 20 different states and Canada.
Kenniebrew founded the hospital because he could not obtain admitting privileges at area hospitals. At the time, an agreement with the Sangamon County Medical Society permitted only its members to have these privileges, and Kenniebrew’s membership requests were turned down.
At SIU’s 19th annual Pearson Lecture, Wesley G. Robinson-McNeese, MD, executive assistant to the dean for diversity, multicultural and minority affairs and associate professor of internal medicine, chronicled the journey of Kenniebrew from his childhood and education in Tuskegee, Ala., to his death in Springfield.
“This man’s life has so many inspirational elements,” said McNeese. “He was the son of a former slave, a friend, colleague and personal physician to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee, and after relocating to Illinois, he persevered despite repeated roadblocks from the Jim-Crow world of the early 20th Century.”
At the Pearson Lecture, Sangamon County Medical Society President Carl Gold, MD, presented Kenniebrew’s daughter, Charlotte Johnson, with a certificate of membership to posthumously induct Alonzo Kenniebrew into the organization.
HSHS St. John’s Hospital and Memorial Health System are underwriting the cost of the annual presentation.
“Dr. Kenniebrew was a prominent, well-respected physician, and it is important that we make a point to carry out his legacy,” said HSHS St. John’s President and CEO Charles L. Lucore, MD, MBA. “We feel privileged to support this forum in his honor related to disparities in health care.”
“Memorial is pleased to help support this forum series to recognize the contributions of Dr. Kenniebrew, as well as explore the topic of healthcare disparity that is a priority in our nation and community,” said Edgar J. Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health System.
The inaugural presentation will be held in January 2017.