Black Women’s History Month: Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice(Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice. Photo by Maria Saporta)
The first woman to become president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine has led the charge of making sure that every Atlantan gets vaccinated.
Challenging, humbling and exhilarating is how Dr. Valerie Montogmery Rice describes her experience being President of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) during a global pandemic.
From vaccine trials to administering the vaccine itself on campus, Montgomery Rice has made sure that the historically Black medical school has taken a seat at the table during the public health crisis.
“COVID-19 has been disproportionately impacting communities of color in transmission, case severity and fatalities,” Montogomery Rice said, “We have continued our work and mission to educate future doctors and strive for health equity during some of the most trying times in recent memory.”
With grants from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the private sector, MSM has been conducting covid-related contact tracing, produced public service announcements, and hosted dozens of virtual town halls and forums to educate the community on how to prevent from contracting the virus.
“You can’t teach med students or practice medicine in the field without time spent in labs and with patients,” Montogomery Rice said. That’s why she decided to re-opened the campus in May, after closing in March of last year, to continue their studies and provide care to underserved communities after graduation.
MSM was one of four historically Black colleges and universities of medicine to recently receive a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. In September, MSM was given a donation of $23.6 million. Montgomery Rice used this gift to pay down active medical students’ tuition debts – up to $100,000 apiece — to reduce the burden of loan repayment for future doctors.
With the help of retired nurses and other healthcare professionals as volunteers, Montgomery Rice created a drive-thru vaccination center to administer the Moderna vaccine to thousands of eligible people in the metro Atlanta area.
She has even put her money where her mouth is by getting both doses of the Pfizer vaccine with Dr. Sanjay Gupta live on CNN.
To find out how to join one of Morehouse School of Medicine’s COVID-19 clinical studies, go to the Coronavirus Prevention Network website and select volunteer now.
To find out how to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine at MSM’s newest Morehouse Healthcare at West End clinic, go to the Georgia Department of Public Health COVID Vaccination Site page.