By Elizabeth Bassett
A local physician and a well-known community leader are being recognized for their community contributions by the Tarrant County Medical Society.
Dr. Basheer Ahmed, a psychiatrist and chairman and director of the Muslim Community Center for Human Services, and Marty Leonard, a Fort Worth native, currently a member of the Tarrant Regional Water Districtâ€™s board of directors, who helped raise funds for local hospitals and medical centers, were honored at a dinner at the Fort Worth Club on Jan. 25. Ahmed received the Humanitarian Award, and Leonard received the May Owen Award.
Ahmed is one of about 15 physicians who volunteer their time and medical skills at the community center, which is in Richland Hills and holds the Al-Shifa clinic, a free clinic every Saturday for those who donâ€™t have health insurance.
The clinic just started having once-a-month clinics on Sundays specifically for women and children, Ahmed said, and there are plans to expand this second clinic to every Sunday.
When asked if the award would raise awareness for the clinic and its patients, Ahmed said he hoped so.
â€œI am sure there are 2,000 members of the society and not all of them know about the clinic,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m hoping that I was beginning to recruit more physicians.â€
Ahmed, who moved to the United States in 1968, grew up in Hyderabad, India. He started a private practice in Fort Worth in 1985, and he started the Al-Shifa clinic (the name means â€œthe healing placeâ€) in 1998, in the beginning he would see five to 10 patients on clinic days.
Now, the clinic serves more than 1,000 patients a year and has the support of local physicians, some of whom may be able to better communicate with some patients who have a hard time navigating the traditional health care system due to language or cultural barriers.
Ahmed, who has retired from his practice, now devotes much of his time to the Muslim Community Center for Human Services.
â€œHere is my full-time job,â€ he said in 2007 about the center.
Dr. Hujesa Vora, president of the Arlington Medical Society, said Ahmed was a friend of his fatherâ€™s and he met Ahmed when he was a boy.
When Vora opened an internal medicine practice in Arlington a few years ago, Ahmed personally called him and persuaded him to try volunteering his time to the Al-Shifa clinic.
â€œHeâ€™s very persuasive,â€ Vora said.
Ahmedâ€™s passion and drive to serve people in need is inspiring to others who feel there is a calling to help.
â€œWe all know what the reality of community service and the reality of medicine, but Dr. Ahmed, one of his big pushes is to remind someone of what the ideals are,â€ Vora said.
Also, he said, he was present when Ahmed was told about his honor, during a board meeting for the MCC for Human Services.
â€œHis response wasnâ€™t, â€˜Thank you for recognizing me.â€™ It was, â€˜Thank you for helping us,â€™â€ Vora said.
In addition to medical care, the center also offers health fairs at various churches and mosques, a domestic violence program and hotline to help victims, seminars on healthy marriages, an outreach program that serves food at a homeless shelter and collects items for donation, and a helpline that can put a caller in touch with somebody who can either answer questions about a wide grange of topics or find somebody who can.
Leonard said that she met May Owen, for whom the non-physician award is named, when she was a young girl. Owen was a friend of Leonardâ€™s father, and she said she appreciates being recognized for the same type of work.
â€œI just hope that what little I have done is the reflection of the characteristics that enabled her to do what she did,â€ she said.
Leonard continues to serve on the board of the Lena Pope Home, something sheâ€™s done for more than 40 years, and sheâ€™s also a senior member of the University Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors for Houstonâ€™s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and on the board of the All Saints Health Foundation. Leonard has also served on the boards of the Baylor All Saints Medical Center and the Bishop Davies Nursing Home, among many, many others.
â€œYou just make time for the things that are important to you,â€ Leonard said.
Leonard said she hopes that this award may inspire others to volunteer their time and offer their input where itâ€™s needed to contribute to the community.
â€œIâ€™ve been fortunate and very blessed to have a lot of energy and a lot of support from a lot of people,â€ she said.