Dr. Alvin (Al) Jackson, M.D., Medical Director of Community Health Services in Fremont, Ohio, has been appointed Director of the Ohio Department of Health by Governor Ted Strickland. Dr. Jackson has been an influential leader of Ohio’s Community Health Centers for 14 years. He garnered national headlines over a year ago after Hurricane Katrina struck. Dr. Jackson headed down to Mississippi in a mobile medical unit to provide health care to Katrina’s victims but enountered federal red tape when his team learned their malpractice coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act wouldn’t cover the health center once the team crossed state lines. Dr. Jackson and his team were eventually given the green light to complete their mission in Mississppi but the liabiity hurdle remains in place even today. NACHC and health centers have been rallying ever since to amend the current law so that health centers can offer a helping hand during multistate disasters. Dr. Jackson briefed staffers about his experiences in Biloxi during Capitol Hill briefing NACHC hosted last March.
“A word that comes to mind is devastation,” Dr. Jackson recalled. “When we arrived there was a lot of suffering: heat, piles of rubbish, people standing in lines for help, people without shoes on their feet.”
Dr. Jackson was raised in a small, close-knit community in Georgia by his father, a migrant farm worker, his grandparents, and an aunt and uncle. His mother tragically died when Jackson was a baby. After an extensive post-high school education, Jackson became a Buckeye as a medical student at The Ohio State University. During Jackson’s four-year family practice residency (Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio), one of the places he was posted was in nearby Fremont at the health center, Community Health Services. He became the health center’s Medical Director in 1995.
“In the 10 years that I have worked with Dr. Jackson, I have never met a more dedicated person to providing access to care for all Ohioans,” says Joe Liszak, Executive Director of Community Health Services, “He has created a legacy of care for patients in Northwest Ohio and although he will be greatly missed, Governor Strickland has made an outstanding choice.”
Dr. Jackson has won numerous awards for his outstanding service, including the Pfizer’s Ohio Quality Care Award; the Department of Health and Human Services’ Clinician Award (for outstanding dedication and commitment to the nation’s migrant farm workers) as well as a Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Award. In 2004 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Heidelberg College for his humanitarian efforts with the migrant population and assistance for foreign relief efforts.