The Doctor’s Doctor

2021 Gold-Headed Cane Award Recipient Susan Rudd Bailey, MD

by Allison Howard

This article was originally published in the September/October issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

When Dr. Susan Rudd Bailey reflects on her years of leadership in organized medicine, she says there has been a consistent truth.

“Every organization, whether it’s Tarrant County Medical Society, whether it’s TMA, AMA—they always seem to have the right person in office at the right time.”

When the allergist and immunologist began her term as AMA president in June of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, she wondered why she was the right person for that moment.  The self-proclaimed extravert has a leadership style that emphasizes relationship building and the importance of community, and she was facing a year of virtually leading the United States’ largest medical association at a critical moment for medicine. It was a daunting situation at best. 

Despite that, Dr. Bailey had the perfect set of experiences to prepare her for that moment. 

“Having been the Speaker at TMA and AMA—I spent basically 16 years doing that—and having a lot of media experience, along with immunology credentials, working with the media and the public was a relatively easy transition,” she says. “I was able to do a lot more and reach a lot more people because I wasn’t traveling. Traveling is a real time waster. Instead of doing two or three events a week, I could do two or three events a day.” 

Thinking about the past year, the culmination of over 40 years of advocacy on the behalf of doctors and patients, Dr. Bailey is humbled and honored by the opportunities that she has been awarded. “What a privilege,” she says, as she smiles and shakes her head. “What a privilege.” 


Dr. Bailey has practiced in Fort Worth her entire career, but it took her a while to get here. Though her family has lived in Tarrant County for generations, she was raised in Houston—“in the shadow of the Texas Medical Center,” she says, remembering a childhood where many of her friends’ parents were physicians. 

That coupled with the influence of Dr. Bailey’s allergist, who treated her severe allergies and asthma with compassion and excellent care throughout her adolescence, propelled her toward her future. 

 “The quality of care we give our patients doesn’t just happen in the examining room. It happens in Austin, it happens in Washington, D.C.”

“I have been so blessed to know what I wanted to do very early on in my life,” Dr. Bailey says. “I mean, I put on my college scholarship applications that I wanted to be an allergist; not just a physician, but an allergist.”

She was in the charter class of the A&M College of Medicine and loved every moment of her medical training. At times, it was an adventure to participate in the then-new program; the first two years of classes were housed in the basement of the computer sciences building. The small class of 32 students built strong bonds that turned into lifelong friendships.

She graduated in 1981 and began her residency at the Mayo Clinic. It was a complete shift from her tight-knit medical school; this program is one of the largest in the country and housed over a thousand residents at the time. Despite the completely different setting, Dr. Bailey says that this is an experience she has valued throughout her career.

Dr. Bailey completed her residencies in pediatrics and allergy and immunology by 1987 and joined Fort Worth Allergy and Asthma Associates (FWAAA) in 1988. By then, she was a mother of two young children, trying to find a balance between her career and her family. She wanted to work part time but was concerned about finding a position that fit her needs. 

Dr. Bob Lanier, who hired her, and the rest of the partners at FWAAA were supportive of her position, so she joined the group and has stayed there her entire career. The unique setup of their clinic, which is an expense sharing partnership, gives her the flexibility Dr. Bailey needed to focus on her family and be involved in groups like TCMS, TMA, and AMA. 

Her longtime partner at FWAAA, Dr. Robert Rogers, feels she is an integral part of their clinic. “Her patients thrive under her care,” he says. “Sue has an unwavering sense of fairness, which has created a perfect environment for the business side of our practice. I have been fortunate to share so much of my life with this excellent physician and close friend.”

She anticipated she would find a good fit with the Tarrant County medical community, and that hope was confirmed before she even got here. In February of 1988, just a few short months before the move to Texas, she went to the AMA’s Winter Conference, an event that executives and presidents from state and county societies around the country would attend. She brought her youngest son with her, who was only two months old at the time. 

“The two people at that meeting from TCMS were the late Leo Benavides, who was the executive director then and just such a wonderful man, and the president of the society at that time, who was Dr. John Smith,” Dr. Bailey says. “I had my son, Stephen, in his stroller, and at one point in time he got kind of fussy. So John picked him up and started soothing him and then kind of started dancing with him as we were listening to the music, and I thought to myself, oh yes, these are the people I want to be with. I had found my family.”


Dr. Bailey has a recommendation for doctors and medical students everywhere: get involved in organized medicine and learn to say “yes.”

“There are opportunities available – the county medical society needs good people, the TMA needs good people, your specialty society needs good people,” she says, sharing the passion from her own career. “For me, it was the importance of physicians being involved in advocacy, and in helping other physicians practice medicine in a better environment. The quality of care we give our patients doesn’t just happen in the examining room. It happens in Austin, it happens in Washington, D.C.”

This is something Dr. Bailey has practiced her whole career. She joined TMA and AMA during her years of medical school and began to attend meetings. As a resident, she was elected to chair the AMA’s advisory panel on women in medicine. As her career progressed, she served as speaker of the house for both TMA and AMA, and as president for TCMS, TMA, and now, AMA. She has been involved in countless committees and groups, assisting with policy, advocacy, and education. 

She has brought many physicians to join her along the way. Dr. Melissa Garretson, who has referred some of her most challenging allergy patients to Dr. Bailey, has often been inspired by her. “Sue Bailey is a phenomenal allergist,” she says. “But her greatest gifts are as a mentor and friend.  Sue has guided many of us on our journey of service to organized medicine.”

Leading and participating in groups has always fascinated Dr. Bailey, but her commitment goes beyond her affinity for working in a team. 

“I think of being involved in organized medicine as a professional obligation. I really do,” Dr. Bailey says. “Things don’t happen organically. We have to be intentional about making sure that everyone is represented, that everyone’s voice is heard.”

One area she has seen this in is the development of sections dedicated to female physicians. Though she was happy to be able to participate when she joined AMA’s advisory panel on women in medicine so early in her career, Dr. Bailey was concerned she was being pushed to the side to worry about women’s issues while other doctors worried about the “real” problems.

“My feeling about women in medicine groups has done a complete 180 from where I was when I finished my residency; now I think it’s incredibly important,” Dr. Bailey says. “Thirty-six percent of the physicians in the U.S. are female, but we still face significant pay inequities, and only 18 percent of medical school deans and 25 percent of tenured faculty are women. There is obviously still work that needs to be done.”

Looking back at what has been done, and the many things that still need to be accomplished, Dr. Bailey says that she has learned two important lessons about leadership. Good leaders sometimes step back to give someone else a golden opportunity, and good leaders always support their team. She had the chance to practice this when she first planned to run for TMA president. 

“The late, wonderful Ladon Homer called me and took me to lunch,” Dr. Bailey says, remembering that day with a smile. “He had said all along that he didn’t want to be TMA president, that he would be happy to be chair of the board and then he would be done, but I always felt that he needed to be TMA president. So he took me to lunch and asked me if I would mind if he went ahead and ran for TMA president in the year that I was going to run.

“It was a no-brainer for me. I said, ‘Yes! Do it. We need you.’ Some people asked me later if I was resentful of that. No! I’m so glad, because Ladon was an amazing TMA president. He was the right person at the right time for us.”

Dr. Bailey had her opportunity to serve as TMA president from 2010 to 2011, and with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, she grew greatly as a leader as she navigated the different opinions and positions of the organizations and people she worked with. 

“Leadership means that you will not always be advocating for your personal cause,” says Dr. Bailey. “There are times you have to take one for the team. A team, whether it’s a small group in an operating room or it’s thousands of physicians working together. 

“You can have your arguments, you can have your disagreements and grind out policy, but when the decision is made, you all work together and leave your differences behind you. In the end, the credibility of the team far outlasts individual policy implications. If you lose your team, it doesn’t matter if you win.”


Dr. Bailey says so much of what she has done has been possible through the support of her loving husband, Doug; her two sons, Michael and Stephen Wynn; her daughter-in-law, Hannah; and her grandson, 11-year-old Jackson. She loves to spend time with them, and one benefit of completing her time in leadership is that she is now able to do that more often.

When not in the midst of a pandemic, Dr. Bailey also enjoys expressing her love of music by singing in her church choir at University Christian Church. She has had unforgettable experiences with her choir members, many of whom are her closest friends. A top highlight has been being able to sing at Carnegie Hall—six times.

Though Dr. Bailey loves organized medicine, she is ready to step back and focus on her practice and her family. She looks toward the possibilities of the future with anticipation as she limits her role at TCMS, TMA, and AMA to that of an “interested observer.”

“I have had 40 years to make a difference,” she says. “If I haven’t done what I needed to do in 40 years, said what I needed to say, accomplish what I needed to accomplish, then it’s nobody’s fault but mine. It’s time for younger people to occupy those committee chairs, to be the delegate, to get a chance to run the meeting. I’ve had my turn, and it’s been glorious, but now it’s someone else’s.”

As Dr. Steve Brotherton puts it after spending many years as her colleague in organized medicine, “Dr. Bailey has been an exemplary physician at all levels.” With great appreciation for her many years of selflessly serving the patients and physicians of Tarrant County and beyond, we congratulate Dr. Bailey— the Doctor’s Doctor.

Project Access Tarrant County

A patient’s perspective

by Daisy Ortiz with Kathryn Narumiya

This article was originally published in the September/October issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

I will remember Project Access forever because not only did it save me, but it also helped my family.

I am twenty-eight years old. I have been married for seven years and I have a son and a daughter. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors were shocked. They had never seen a patient my age with such severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

My condition has affected everything. It has been the cause of my depression. I felt like giving up on life. I could not be a mom or a wife. My husband would always see me sick and in pain. I could not take my kids to the park. My son would ask me to kick a ball with him, but I could not do simple things. 

It has been a major setback in my life. Since being diagnosed, I have had to quit three jobs because of my arthritis, especially in my knees.

This year has been hard because my pain has increased so much. It has been hard on me physically, emotionally, and mentally. One day, the pain was so unbearable that I went to the emergency room. After many tests, I was told that I needed an orthopedic surgeon. I knew that it was going to cost so much money. My husband told me that he did not care if he had to give up his whole paycheck for me to go to the doctor but that I was going to get the care I needed. That was when I started seeing Dr. David Brigati at Texas Bone and Joint. He immediately saw how bad my condition was and he told me he did not care what he had to do, that he was going to help me. He contacted Kathryn and that is when Project Access started helping me. 

Dr. Brigati performed my double knee replacement at Baylor Surgicare. My life has changed so much since the surgery. I am 70-80 percent better. I can walk and get around on my own now, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I can finally drive and get in my car. I have been able to take myself to the grocery store. This past Sunday, my family and I went to the zoo. It was a big milestone for us because I was able to walk and go up and down the stairs. My husband kept asking me if I was okay because he couldn’t believe how much I was able to walk at the zoo. 

Project Access also connected me to Baylor Community Care Clinic, where I have been seeing a therapist, and that has helped my mental health so much. The fact that I am now able to move freely and be more independent has helped me mentally. I feel so much better knowing that my family is not so concerned about me because they know I am improving day by day. 

I will remember Project Access forever because not only did it save me but it also helped my family.

I have been connected to a rheumatologist, and I plan on starting treatment soon. Eventually I hope to go back to work because I can finally walk. 

I want Dr. Brigati to know that I am forever grateful for him. He listened to me, understood me, and validated me. He did not just help me. He helped my husband, my kids, and my whole family. He helped me come back to life. I just want to say “thank you.” I do not have words to describe my appreciation. We need more doctors like him. 

For a long time, I dealt with so much pain that was contributed to my depression. It has been very hard for me to get healthcare. I just wanted to stop trying. I did not know there are resources out there that are willing to help. It’s amazing to me that there are organizations that want to help others. I have seen how much the surgery and physical therapy costs and I am so fortunate to not have to pay for these services. I am so grateful that PATC was able to help me. Diana and Kathryn were so helpful, and I am grateful for their patience. They have been a huge blessing in my life. I will remember this forever because not only did it save me, but it helped my family.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 09/15/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 329,527

COVID-19 related deaths: 4047

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 292,244

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Wednesday, September 15, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

Viral Sampler – Public Health Notes

by Catherine Colquitt, MD
Tarrant County Public Health Medical Director

This article was originally published in the September/October issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

With healthcare systems, policy makers, and community partners preoccupied with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, other infectious diseases are percolating in the United States and across the globe, reminding us that Hamlet was right: “There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”1

Recently, the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) issued a rapid release describing the effects of COVID-19 on U.S. life expectancy, which declined overall by 1.5 years between 2019 and 2020, from 78.8 years to 77.3 years.2 It is the sharpest decline in U.S. life expectancy since 1943, when World War II casualties were to blame for the decline from 1942 to 1943. Life expectancy decreased by 3.0 years for persons of Hispanic origin, and by 2.9 years for the non-Hispanic Black population over the same time period. The magnitude of the drop in life expectancy and the disparate effects of COVID-19 based on race and ethnicity are sobering. 

In addition, many epidemiologists and public health experts are anticipating a busy influenza and other respiratory virus season after very low incidences of flu and other non-COVID respiratory infections in 2020 (attributed to COVID-19 shutdowns of schools, workplaces and businesses, masking requirements, and social distancing guidance). The CDC says to plan for “resumption of seasonal flu virus circulation” in the population with decreased “immunity due to lack of flu activity since March 2020” along with “co-circulation of flu, SARS-CoV-2, and other viruses like RSV” which may “place a renewed burden on the health care system.”3

The Texas Department of State Health Services attributes drops in vaccination rates to “stay-at-home measures, school and school-based clinic closures, and business closures” during the COVID-19 shutdown along with healthcare providers “suspending or postponing wellness visits including vaccinations in some cases.”4 From April 2019 to April 2020, vaccination rates through TVFC program decreased by 43 percent and remain well below 2019 rates even now. ImmTrac2, the Texas Immunization Registry, reported on July 1, 2021, that age-specific benchmarks for most VFC-supported immunizations (including pertussis, Hepatitis B, Hemophilus influenzae, rubella, measles, mumps, and varicella) remain well below benchmarks with schools soon to reopen for in-person classes.   

Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services reported 100 cases of Hepatitis A in 2020 (an increase from an annual average of 19 cases for the prior 10 years) and has already recorded 52 Hepatitis A cases in the first three months of 2021. The outbreak in Dallas County is associated with drug use (both injection and non-injection) and homelessness.  Tarrant County is working with the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition and John Peter Smith Hospital among other partners to offer homeless Tarrant County residents Hepatitis A vaccines (highly efficacious at preventing future Hep A infections). 

And in July, the CDC issued a statement on Monkeypox in Texas.6 The infected U.S. resident had recently returned from Nigeria and traveled by air from Lagos to Atlanta and then to DFW International Airport. A contact investigation is underway; Monkeypox is rare in the U.S. The last large outbreak occurred in 2003 and was associated with transmission from pet prairie dogs to humans. Monkeypox can cause serious morbidity and is usually contracted through contact with infected animals (bites, scratches, or dressing wild game) but can be transmitted via respiratory droplets, body fluid contact, or fomite spread (via contaminated clothing or bedding). More information about monkeypox is available at https://www.cdc.gov/pox virus/monkeypox,index/html.

Stay tuned!

References

1. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5. 

2. “The 2020 Decline in Life Expectancy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 21, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/podcasts/2021/20210721/20210721.htm. 

3. “Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2021-2022 Season.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 6, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2021-2022.htm. 

4. “Preliminary Report on the Texas Vaccines for Children Program:  Impacts of COVID-19 on TVFC Vaccine administration.” Texas Department of State Health Services, September 16, 2020. https://www.dshs.texas.gov/immunize/docs/COVID19impactTVFC.pdf

5. Dallas County Health and Human Services Health Alert, April 5,2021. https://www.dallascounty.org/Assets/uploads/docs/hhs/health-advisories/2021/DCHHS-HealthAlert-HepatitisA-04.05.2021.pdf

6. “CDC and TEXAS Confirm MONKEYPOX in U.S. Traveler.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 16, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0716-confirm-monkeypox.html.

Important COVID-19 Updates for North Texas Physicians

The North Texas Medical Society Coalition is sharing two important and timely COVID-19 updates as you help navigate care for your patients. 

First, the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) has opened a second COVID-19 antibody infusion center in North Texas. The new facility, located at Collin College in McKinney, will be in addition to the existing center in Ft. Worth. Click here to access the referral form and here for location details for the McKinney location. Click here for the referral form and here for location details for the Ft. Worth location.

Second, regional hospital emergency departments are requesting that well and mildly ill patients requiring a COVID-19 test (e.g. students, teachers and others who are seeking to return to school/work, or, individuals with mild symptoms), be directed to offsite COVID testing facilities. Emergency departments are being inundated with both sick patients and COVID-19 testing requests and have asked for the assistance of referring physicians to direct test-only patients to offsite locations. To access an offsite testing location, please click here. Please advise patients to contact the testing center prior to arriving to inquire about any limitations (e.g. no pediatrics, hours, appointments needed, etc.), and other important details. Hospitals have advised that patients who present at the emergency department for testing only may be charged an emergency department visit fee. While the COVID test itself is free, a facility visit fee may apply.

Thank you for all you are doing to serve your patients and our community. You are appreciated!

The NTMSC represents more than 11,500 physicians in the communities of Collin-Fannin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, and Tarrant County. Founded in 2020, the NTMSC works with community healthcare partners, including public health departments, hospitals, and business leaders, to advise on medical recommendations to serve the health care needs of the residents of North Texas.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 09/03/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 309,051

COVID-19 related deaths: 3907

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 279,153

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Friday, September 3, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

North Central Texas COVID-19 Regional Infusion Center Now Accepting Walk-ins

The North Central Texas COVID-19 Regional Infusion Center, which is located in Fort Worth, is now accepting both scheduled and walk-in patients; however, it is not guaranteed that walk-in patients will be able to get an appointment. The Emergency Medical Coordination Center said that it is best if patients talk to a doctor before pursing treatment.

“It is strongly recommended that patients visit a physician to see if they are eligible for the treatment and have their physician submit the referral form to the Regional Infusion Center to schedule an appointment,” the group said in a statement. “Walk-in patients will be seen by a medical professional but turned away if they do not meet the Eligibility Criteria.”

Walk-in patients are also required to provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 09/01/21


COVID-19 Positive cases: 305,996

COVID-19 related deaths: 3881

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 276,983

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.