Each year, Good News Clinics honors one volunteer physician with the Sam Poole Volunteer of the Year Award. This award is named for longtime volunteer physician and Good News Clinics’ first Medical Director, Dr. Sam Poole. This year, the award goes to Dr. Heidi Nicholson.
Dr. Nicholson has been volunteering at Good News Clinics for 16 years. In 2004 she began volunteering in the place of a former volunteer, Dr. Kempler. Dr. Nicholson retired from Emergency Medicine at NGHS in 2018 and currently has a private practice in Gainesville, Georgia—Renew Clinics. Dr. Nicholson holds licenses in Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Eastern Medicine. Upon the retirement of Dr. James Butts as Medical Director for The Clinics, she not only volunteered to join Dr. Edwin Lynch and Dr. Mark Henson in providing physician leadership as Co-Director of Internal Medicine but also increased her volunteer hours to ensure complex patients of the clinics are well served. Dr. Nicholson volunteers two days each week in the clinic. Dr. Nicholson also precepts for NGHS Graduate Medical Education Residents on their rotations at The Clinics.
We are honoring Dr. Nicholson for many reasons; her leadership, her incredible clinical ability, and her willingness to serve. But, this year Dr. Nicholson was the voice of resolve to hold fast to our mission caring for the indigent through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When shelter-in-place orders were executed, Dr. Nicholson was rapid in her resolve to keep treating patients and ensure that our clinic doors stayed open. She took on additional patients for providers who could not volunteer during that difficult period and has said many times since March, “We have a responsibility to our patients and to this community – we must maintain our mission.” She began providing telehealth for patients too high risk to come in for their appointments and helped The Clinics test over 1,300 people for the virus in our events sponsored by NGHS. Dr. Nicholson’s dedication to medicine and passion for the underserved saves patients’ lives and inspires all who work with her.