The first lecture in a new Niagara University series on health care took place Nov. 3 in the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences. The presentation by well-known physician Dr. David Holmes, titled "Underserved Medicine: Globally and Locally," kicked off a series that's sponsored by the Dr. John J. Hughes, '67 Endowment.
Holmes is a clinical associate professor of family medicine and director of global health education at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. He has led numerous medical mission efforts that have brought relief to those in need in different parts of the world, including Kenya, India, China, Haiti and Buffalo.
More recently, Holmes has also become deeply involved in efforts in Erie County to address the opiate addiction epidemic.
"The purpose of my life is to love and honor God and my family, and make a positive and significant difference in the lives of others," Holmes said.
The wide-ranging talk examined the need to provide health care to the underserved in Western New York and across the globe. Holmes drew from his work as founding director of Good Neighbors Health Care, a faith-based community health center, and as a contributor to the Lighthouse, a student-run community health clinic. Both Buffalo clinics were cited as examples of ways to promote whole-person health care to those in need.
"Medical research shows better outcomes when people have good whole-person health - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually," remarked Holmes, who holds a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University and an M.D. in medicine from the University of Vermont.
Holmes also raised the question of whether or not health care should be a right, like public education in the U.S., or a commodity that is only available to those who can afford it.
He challenged the attendees to make an effort to participate in global health care, emphasizing, "engaging in global health care helps students and health care providers to remember why they wanted to go to school in the first place. It's an antidote to cynicism and burnout."
Holmes added, "Attention to the needs of the poor and underserved populations of the world may restore a sense of purpose and humanism." He reinforced message this with the biblical mandate - a la St. Vincent de Paul - to care for those in need.
"As we help others, we receive blessings back," Holmes noted.
In response to the lecture by Holmes, pre-health students at Niagara University have committed to establish an on-campus public health club that will host talks on global health, participate in medical missions, volunteer at free clinics in Western New York, increase awareness of human trafficking and other global health problems, and engage in community health education and other public health projects.
"The presentation by Dr. Holmes was an excellent opportunity to introduce our pre-health students to an exemplary health care professional, the type of practitioner that our pre-health program wants our students to prepare to become," said Dr. William Cliff, the John J. Hughes, '67, M.D., Endowed Program Director of Pre-Professional Health.
The Hughes Lectureship was initiated by an endowment created by the late Dr. John Hughes, Class of 1967, an accomplished radiologist. It recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the health sciences or to health care. The lecture also provides an academic forum for the university community, area health care professionals and members of the general public to address topics of importance in contemporary health care.
To learn more about Niagara University's pre-health programs, visit www.niagara.edu/pre-health-professions.