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Boston Medical Center Emergency Medicine Physician Receives 2014 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award

November 01, 2014

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Thea James, MD, honored for commitment to reducing community violence

(Boston) – Nov. 21, 2014 - Boston Medical Center (BMC) emergency medicine physician Thea James, MD, is the recipient of the 2014 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award®, given annually to “an extraordinary caregiver.” James was honored for her dedication and life-long commitment to reducing community violence and healthcare disparities among vulnerable populations. She received the award at the 19th Annual Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner in Boston, before an audience of nearly 2,000 healthcare leaders, practicing clinicians, patients and family members.

Dr. James

James is a co-founder of BMC’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP), which provides victims and perpetrators of violence with services that facilitate healing and discourage retaliation.

“Dr. James exemplifies compassionate care through her natural ability to treat patients as people, not just illnesses,” said BMC president and CEO Kate Walsh. “She is a tireless advocate for victims of violence both while they are in the hospital and when they return home after tragedy. On behalf of everyone at BMC, I want to congratulate Dr. James and thank her for her commitment to our patients and their families.”

During her remarks at the dinner, Dr. James called her patients and their families her “teachers,” who have given her their trust, support and who have also imparted profound lessons. “At Boston Medical Center, some of our patients are challenging. But given any opportunity, our patients would not choose to suffer,” said Dr. James. “We practice our own brand of medicine to mitigate suffering. Our approach is to know the patient—their barriers, their resources, how they see their disease, what they believe in and, equally important, what they don’t believe.”

According to Schwartz Center Executive Director Julie Rosen, “Dr. James interacts with patients in a truly authentic and compassionate manner. She sees the person behind each injury and searches for that person’s story. Her sensitivity, communications skills, optimism and kindness have deeply impacted the lives of her patients and families. We’re so pleased to honor her and our extraordinary finalists.”

In addition to her work at BMC, James co-founded Unified for Global Healing, a foundation aimed at improving health outcomes across the globe. She has provided emergency medical care to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; the Sept, 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City; and earthquake victims in Iran and Haiti.

A resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, James is a graduate of Georgetown University and is an associate professor of emergency medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

The Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award was established in 1999 to recognize healthcare providers who demonstrate extraordinary compassion in caring for patients and families. The finalists were chosen by a review committee based on how well they embody the characteristics of compassionate care, which include effective communication and emotional support, mutual trust and respect, involving patients and families in healthcare decisions, and treating patients as people, not just illnesses.

James received a $5,000 cash prize with the award, and four finalists received $1,000 each.

The Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award is made possible through the generous support of Johnson & Johnson and Novo Nordisk.

(Photo courtesy of Randy H. Goodman)