The Wang Era of the Family Health Center 1970-2002

May Wang was living in Hong Kong in 1941 with her parents and four siblings. A few days after Pearl Harbor, she looked out her kitchen window and saw airplanes dropping bombs. During the war, the family would have a few tiny salt fish for supper. Several years later, they moved to the United States, and she entered the 10th grade. She went on to Stanford, then Yale for med school, internship at Pennsylvania Hospital, pediatrics residency at Columbia Presbyterian in NYC, then a fellowship in hematology at Tufts in Boston. She came to Waco in 1966 when her husband was hired to teach Physics at Baylor, which he did for 37 years. When the new residency formed and hired Dr. Jackson Walker as their first director, his first (and he says his best) decision was to hire May Wang to teach pediatrics to the family medicine residents, which she did from 1970 to 2002.

Dr. Lauren Barron, a one-time student and longtime colleague of Dr. Wang, says, “Her dedication to detail, her single-mindedness and attentiveness in the midst of distractions, her persistence in patient care and her expectation of excellence of all those around her have imprinted themselves on those of us who continue to want to make her proud. I am profoundly grateful to have had the privilege of learning so much from such a mighty woman as Dr. May Wang… Her physical exam skills were legendary. And her way of focusing one each and every patient in turn was extraordinary. She was responsible for countless acts of anonymous kindness and generosity to make sure that patients received the medical attention and prescriptions they couldn’t afford. Her exemplary physicianship raised the standard of care to everyone in her sphere.” Dr. Roland Goertz says, “Dr. Wang was one of the most dedicated, caring and intelligent physicians I have ever known. She touched, taught and shaped many physicians and others in her over 30 years at the Family Health Center.”

With Dr. Wang’s supervision, the residents that trained at Waco developed a legacy of excellent pediatric care, both inpatient and outpatient. She was known for being able to manage the most complicated of patients skillfully, yet giving the greatest of concerns about the simplest and most pragmatic of parent concerns with their children. Rightly parents fully trusted her care. She worked with Dr. William Roddy for many years in running a pediatric cardiology clinic for Waco, and she trained residents along with Dr. Darrell Wheeler in the neonatal ICU with many of the sickest of newborns. The residents often said “There is a Wang way, or the wrong way!” Every hospital day ended with the Wang call, where every young hospital patient was thoroughly discussed so that nothing was missed. Her Wang manual became the guide for family medicine docs for managing patients, and is still on many of our bookshelves. I still today benefit every day from her teaching, as do my patients.

Her message to physicians today? “In spite of cumbersome regulations and decreased payments from government and insurance health plans, the study and practice of medicine is still a noble profession. An honest, caring, and compassionate physician will be able to benefit many people and will always have grateful patients.”

Brian Becker, M.D.

When I moved to Galveston to attend medical school in 1992, Brian was my neighbor on Pine St. Then he taught me as a senior resident in OB/GYN at UTMB when I was a third year med student. Years later he is still my leader and teacher in Waco as the President of the Providence Health Alliance, and soon to be Chief Medical Officer of Providence Hospital. As anyone in Waco knows, Brian is highly regarded for his skillful and kind medical care in Waco the past 16 years.

Brian was born in Waco, went to school in Mart, went to Baylor and A&M for college, then UTMB for med school and residency. He started practicing OB/GYN at King’s Daughters in Temple for five years before coming to Waco in 2000 and building a private solo practice, learning much of the business of medicine. He then was a founding member of Waco Center for Women’s Health. He served as the first two-year President of the medical staff at Providence Hospital, and is working on his Masters in Healthcare Administration at UT Dallas. Brian will be contributing to the development of the Texas Ministry (enhancing the integration of services provided by Seton and Providence) under One Ascension.

Brian is an avid hunter (loves a sunrise in the woods) and a voracious reader. He and Tammy, his wife of 25 years, have four children.

What do you see in Waco medicine today and in the future?

The level of care provided to our community is unprecedented in terms of services and quality. Having two very large healthcare systems with a growing number of employed physicians and the possibility of narrow network insurance products has put a great deal of strain on those providers who are trying to remain independent. Diminishing reimbursements have sometimes put hospitals and providers at odds. Business and politics in medicine are becoming more difficult to navigate. The move from fee for service to value (quality/cost) is going to be disruptive and quite a challenge. However, these issues are universal and not unique to Waco.

In the future, we need to grow as a community of healthcare providers who are respectful and trusting of each other, driven by a similar vision of the future, focused on quality care for the patient, capable and excited to contribute their efforts and adaptive of the inevitable changes coming in healthcare.

If there is one message you’d give to today’s physician, what would it be?

Be humble. This is still an awesome calling. We have the privilege of serving people at some of the worst, and best, times in their lives. Not every moment is great and not every task is exciting, but on the whole it is still an amazing profession. We have an ability to have a profound impact on somebody’s life daily.

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