Friday, January 25, 2013

He's The REAL Deal

When I first met Robert Clifford, he was a senior in high school. A gifted musician, Robert played all manner of instruments, but primarily rocked the piano. He was also the top of his class, popular, athletic and handsome. Also one of the nicest people I'd ever met. And just when you think it doesn't get much better than all of that, then he goes to medical school to become a doctor.

Fast forward twenty some years, and now "Dr. Robert" is my children's pediatrician. We began going to his practice, Coastal Pediatric Associates, when we moved to the West Ashley area of Charleston about 6 years ago, and he has been an instrumental part of our strategy for managing Will's learning challenges, as well as being an awesome all-around pediatrician. Not only can I count on him to be a good doctor to my children, he is always generous with his "talk time" with me as well, always considering my opinions and feelings when it comes to the care of our children.

Many local moms take their children to Coastal, and many local moms like Dr. Clifford just as much as I do. What many local moms may not realize is that Dr. Clifford is also the only doctor some children in the world ever seen. Period. In conjunction with an organization called Remember, Dr. Clifford leads medical teams on outreach missions around the world, targeting areas where medical services available to children and families are virtually non-existent or out of reach due to lack of resources.

Now, while all of us locals know what a good guy he is, it was so exciting to hear that he was recently nominated for a REAL award. (Don't worry - I didn't know what it meant at first either.) The REAL awards are a global awards program created by Save The Children and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition to develop greater respect and appreciation for health workers and the lifesaving care they provide globally, as well as in the United States.

It's just so exciting to me that while people from all over the country were nominated and while I'm sure they are all very deserving folks, someone who I am proud to call my friend and my doctor, and a local Charlestonian won! This award is made possible by some names you might recognize, like, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GlaxoSmith Kline, Medtronic Foundation, Merck Company Foundation and Time Magazine, just to name a few. Yesterday, Dr. Clifford was presented with a symbolic boarding pass for the awards ceremony held in Washington, DC this April. Not only will the actual awards be given, the recipients will have a chance to advocate on Capitol Hill on behalf of health care providers around the world.

While the award itself is extremely exciting and a huge honor, Dr. Clifford took a moment to remind us why he and other health care workers go on these trips, saying, "It's such an incredible blessing to be able to work with colleagues who think that even though it's hard, even though we're tired, there's a greater purpose out there. This is especially true in poorer countries where there are children who have never even seen a doctor, let alone what a doctor is or have the resources to get health care."

And there you go, folks. I probably need to stop this blogging stuff and go make my kid's appointments. Waaaay in advance. In all seriousness, I'd like to extend my warmest congratulations to Dr. Robert Clifford - he truly is the real deal.

PS. Some of you Charleston peeps may recognize the lovely lady on the far right...our own Joan Perry of Charleston Daily Photo! She actually wrote the nomination that got all this going. Thanks Joan!

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