Physician Creates Opportunities for Disabled Community
Cincinnati--H. Hughes Hawkins, MD, has received the 1998 Oscar Schmidt
Public Service Award from the University of Cincinnati for his work to
promote independent living, build social connections, and provide
recreational therapy for people with disabilities. He has also offered
many college students guidance and the opportunity to earn experience
in an academic medical environment at a critical time in their careers.
One organization Hawkins has worked with is LADD--Living Arrangements
for the Developmentally Disabled--which helps people with disabilities
live as independently as possible. Dr. Hawkins worked with LADD's
Community Connections, a program that pairs a person with disabilities
and a facilitator who finds places where their partner can explore
common interests and become more socially integrated in the community.
Hawkins explains, "Facilitators help to develop the self confidence and
communications skills of the person with disabilities."
From 1985 to 1994, Dr. Hawkins was a member of Stepping Stones Center,
a program designed to offer recreational facilities to people with
disabilities. His main project, the largest volunteer effort at
Stepping Stones, was a programmatically-focused playground. Dr. Hawkins
helped raise over $50,000 in funds, recruit volunteers, and acquire
donations of materials and equipment. "When I began working with
Stepping Stones, I asked what was needed to round out the programming
or facilities. The answer was a playground," Hawkins explains. "We
wanted to develop a playground that promoted creativity, range of
motion, interaction, and fitness."
Hawkins has served as director of radiology at the Drake Center for 19
years and for the last ten years has evaluated swallowing disorders in
patients with neurological disorders. Defining common terms and setting
a consistent care pathway allowed for the measurement of diet
restrictions and quality of life issues. In addition to standard
bedside evaluation and imaging procedures, Hawkins, along with the
speech pathology and radiology teams at Drake developed methods for
determining and following quality of life in these patients with
regards to recommendations from the study.
Hawkins also provides interested college graduates an opportunity to
work with him for 13 months to experience the academic medical
environment. Similar to a coop experience, students work on clinical,
research, and educational projects to get a sense of what a career in
medicine would entail. "We're offering opportunities to students at a
time when they need to make informed decisions about what their career
will be," he says.
Hawkins is also often asked to visit people who've recently suffered a
debilitating accident or who are trying to adapt to a disability. His
efforts include finding or creating materials to improve the quality of
their daily lives or visiting with patients and counseling them. "He
has taught me how to accept a handicap and then move on without self
pity in a positive, focused way of life," wrote Dr. Corning Benton, MD.
Hawkins believes his volunteer work is consistent with the reasons he
initially pursued a career in medicine. He says, "I want to work with
people to address the quality of life issues. Along with doing the work
and getting good results, getting to know people has been the best