Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr.

By Monique Gooch

NASHVILLE, TN — The Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), the state’s oldest nonprofit federally-funded health center, will host the 2021 Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. Legacy Breakfast on April 22. Because of  COVID-19 ,the event will take place virtually at 9:00am. Admission is free, and donations are encouraged, with all proceeds benefiting patients at MWCHC. Attendees can register here or go to https://mwchc.org for more information. 

The Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center is a non-profit federally-funded medical center providing affordable and quality healthcare to patients in the Middle Tennessee and surrounding areas. MWCHC is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art care to all patients regardless of economic status, with its three facilities in Nashville, Clarksville and Smyrna reaching 17,000 patients a year.

Dr. Walker was one of the first African Americans voted into the Nashville Academy of Medicine and was on the Board of Hospital Commissioners of Nashville General Hospital.Walker saw the need for a comprehensive health center because the regular clinics and hospitals in Nashville were overcrowded and understaffed. In 1968, he founded Meharry Neighborhood Health Center which was later renamed Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center. The Center was able to provide comprehensive health services to underserved community members in one convenient location, prevent and treat disease, and provide jobs for persons of low economic and educational backgrounds.

Dr. Walker was a pillar throughout Nashville both as a medical professional and community staple. He chaired Meharry Medical College’s department of surgery from 1945 to 1973 and developed a rigorous residency program to cultivate exceptionally trained surgeons. 

The legacy breakfast will feature a keynote address by Charlene Dewey, MD, MED, MACP, Professor of Medical Education and Administration at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She will discuss “Preventing Burnout and Building Resilience in the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Awards will be presented at the event as well. Dr. James Hildreth, President and CEO of Meharry Medical College and a member of President Biden’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, will receive the Dr. Matthew Walker Sr. Legacy Award. State Representative Harold Love, who pastors Lee Chapel AME Church, will accept the Michelle B. Marrs Advocacy Award. MWCHC will also distribute scholarships to local Meharry Medical College students.

Fundraising Chair and immediate past chair of the Board  of MWCHC, Sandra Long Weaver, said that she is very excited about the first-ever virtual legacy breakfast, “It allows people from all over the country as well as those living Middle Tennessee to join us to celebrate the founding of the center by Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr.” Weaver also talked about the awards Dr. Hildreth and State Representative Harold Love will receive. “We are honoring two people who have worked hard this past year to get all of us through this tough pandemic year. And our featured speaker will inspire us to shift gears to live our best lives.”

“We are excited to once again gather as a community to recognize Dr. Matthew Walker’s legacy,” says Katina Beard, CEO of MWCHC. “It is an honor to continue Dr. Walker and Michelle B. Marrs’ vision for accessible and affordable health care in 2021 and celebrate the community leaders who also support this vision.”

Beard says that she is excited for the legacy breakfast, “The Dr. Matthew Walker Sr. Legacy Breakfast is our opportunity to highlight the great work being done in our community by our fellow leaders and student scholars. It’s going to be an exciting morning of celebration!”