The Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) recognized three member physicians â€” Drs. Ali Rahimi, Charles Wilmer and Randy Rizor â€” and the Medical Association of Atlanta (MAA) during 165th House of Delegates meeting in Stone Mountain. The awards were presented by MAG President, Dr. Rutledge Forney.
Advocating for Georgia’s Hands Free Driving Law
Drs. Rahimi and Wilmer were the leading advocates for Georgiaâ€™s â€˜hands-freeâ€™ driving law, signed into law in 2018. H.B. 673 made it illegal for drivers in the state to use handheld devices. MAG, the MAA, and the MAG Foundation supported the legislation.
MAA board member Ceana Nezhat, M.D., believes, â€œDrs. Rahimi and Wilmer are unsung heroes who deserve our thanks and applause for activating the medical profession and achieving a landmark patient safety victory that has already saved a countless number of lives.â€
Dr. Nezhat recalls the genesis for the effort occurred in 2016 when one of Dr. Wilmerâ€™s close friends was killed by a distracted driver â€“ and Dr. Rahimi was nearly run off the road while driving his son to school the same morning. They subsequently wrote a resolution that MAGâ€™s House of Delegates passed and led to the introduction of the legislation by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta).
Caring for the Underserved and US Service Members
Randy Rizor, M.D., an anesthesiologist and co-founder of The Physiciansâ€™ Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists of Georgia in Atlanta, received the MAGâ€™s Jack A. Raines Humanitarian Award. The award honors a physician for their outstanding humanitarian contributions beyond the normal practice of medicine.
In nominating him for the award, MAA President Dr. Deborah Martin explained that, â€œSince 1994, Dr. Rizor has made more than 25 trips to Haiti to deliver medical supplies and provide care to the underserved population in need of care.â€
Dr. Martin also pointed out that, â€œIn the wake of the terrorist attacks in 2001, Dr. Rizor joined the U.S. Army Reserve. He was deployed to Iraq on two occasions â€“ caring for sometimes grievously wounded U.S. service members in operating rooms near areas of hostile fire.â€
Dr. Rizor also serves on the boards of the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, Eternal Hope in Haiti, and MAA.
Campaigning for Our Health
The MAA received the MAG’s John B. Rabun Award for community activity that brings attention to the efforts of the medical profession.
MAA Executive Director David Waldrep says that, â€œIn 2016, the Medical Association of Atlanta made a strategic decision to focus on the patient and provide education to the public on issues that affect the health of our community.â€
Waldrep explains that this resulted in two key campaigns. The first was an integrated effort to educate the public about the dangers associated with distracted driving â€“ including a town hall and social media campaign â€“ and supporting legislation to make Georgia a â€œmobile device hands-free driving state,â€ keeping in mind the state passed such a bill (H.B. 673 by Rep. John Carson) in 2018. Waldrep also notes that CBS46 in Atlanta is running a series of public service announcements that it developed in concert with MAA to â€œpromote a hands-free culture and raise awareness surrounding the grave dangers associated with distracted driving.â€
The second campaign was created to reduce opioid misuse in the state. Waldrep concludes that, â€œMAA will continue to build the medical professionâ€™s brand and reputation in our community with patient safety outreach efforts like these.â€