Dr. Will Cooke Receives “Doc Hollywood” Award from the Indiana Rural Health Association

As part of the Indiana Rural Health Association’s Annual Conference awards ceremony, held June 22, 2016 at French Lick Springs Resort, Dr. Will Cooke received the Doc Hollywood Award. Dr. Cooke received four nominations, two from individuals from Scott County and two from outside the county.

Doc Hollywood Day is about recognizing those who care professionally for people in rural and underserved communities across the nation. Access to quality healthcare is a key component in terms of individuals’ physical and mental health; it is also a key component in communities’ economic vitality. Without healthcare, along with schools, industry, water systems and other infrastructure, communities wither and die

The Doc Hollywood award raises visibility and awareness of these unsung heroes and celebrates their contributions, enhances the recruitment of people into these professions and areas to ensure access to quality health care and viable, thriving communities. 

The past year and a half has been difficult for the small rural community of Austin, Indiana, as a result of the HIV outbreak. Dr. Cooke and his staff have been dedicated to true patient-centered care by reducing barriers to and providing high quality primary care to local residents for over 10 years. This ongoing dedication is continually demonstrated by his team’s commitment to increased access to free or reduced cost healthcare services to Austin residents. 

More recent demonstration of his commitment to providing high quality care was his completion of a certification in HIV primary care, which makes him the first HIV primary care physician in the state of Indiana. In addition, he recognizes that health is a result of many factors and looks at addressing social determinants of health through his continued work with state and national partners to expand both inside and outreach health services; these include a clinic pharmacy, case management providing linkages to various social services, including substance abuse and mental health services, and an outreach mobile testing that provides HIV and Hepatitis testing and ensures patients have greater access to basic needs of food, clothing and adequate shelter.  

This past winter his mobile unit staff leveraged donations to provide heaters for patients who were living in homes without gas or electricity. Currently, he is building rural health capacity through a partnership with Marian University School of Medicine who will place medical students in his clinic, Scott Memorial Hospital, and Clark County Health Department’s needle exchange program. 

These examples are evidence of Dr. Cooke and his team’s dedication to rural health by reducing disparities through meeting the needs of Scott County communities and ensuring high quality accessible healthcare and most of all providing hope and a healthy future for impoverished residents living with HIV and continuing their struggle to overcome substance abuse.

Dr. Cooke is pictured above with his Office Manager, Jeanni McCarty, a huge contributor to the Foundations Family Medicine team.

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