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Emory Medicine Professor H. Kenneth Walker wins statewide lifetime achievement award

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Elizabeth Johnson

Emory University School of Medicine Professor H. Kenneth Walker, MD, has been awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Georgia Hospital Association's (GHA) Annual Meeting on Nov. 11. He is the assistant chief of internal medicine for the Grady Health System. Walker, who was the only individual statewide to receive the award, was recognized for his nearly 60 years of dedication to healthcare through his work at Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University School of Medicine.

Walker began his medical career at Emory and Grady, earning his MD from the Emory School of Medicine and completing this 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, Walker is extremely dedicated to the education and training of 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.

For nearly 25 years, 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 healthcare and medical education system were in dire need of a transformation, leading to the Atlanta-Tbilisi Healthcare Partnership. Walker's efforts have had a major impact on training of medical and nursing students in Georgia. Since its inception, Walker has been instrumental in aiding the country and improving its quality of healthcare through several endeavors over the years, including the National Information Learning System, which gives Georgian healthcare 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 members who have traveled there over the years. Two grants, led by Walker, helped established emergency medicine as a specialty and improve the nursing profession in the country. Today, Walker is leading efforts to address a rampant endemic problem of hepatitis C in the Republic of Georgia's 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 treat 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 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.

About GHA

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

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