Dr. Khaliah Johnson Embodies Service Above Self

When introducing our speaker, Matt Parrish, AWER Program Leader for December, stated that Dr. Khaliah Johnson was the embodiment of service above self and therefore the ‘perfect’ person to address out Club. She did not disappoint – far from it, leaving us all nearly spellbound by defining her mission as a medical professional, in the US and in Africa, to deliver person-centered care. She practices at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta (CHOA) in pediatric palliative care. She described her family – mom and dad plus her sister – as strong and service-centered as her dad was a community organizer – bolstered or engendered through faith centrality. When CHOA opened its pediatric palliative care program – and she as the leading physician – the hospital immediately became inundated with families seeking help in the most tragic and trying of situations – parents seekers help for their very fragile children. Her work demands consummate professional skill but also a capacity to show genuine caring. Feeling her intensity about children and also her work in Africa convey the reality that this is a person doing God’s will. She shows huge gratitude for being able to serve. Ironically, Khaliah marvels at watching others serve! Despite a huge investment in people at CHOA, Dr. Johnson believes she was raised to serve Africa – in her case working in Tanzania and Uganda. She gives enormous amounts of her high level professional care in a situation so starkly different. (Though she did not specifically say so, those of us close to U S health care instinctively know places like CHOA throw away daily more valuable medical resources than her Dispensary uses in a year.) The Sendo wa [love in] Kalimani Dispensary is anchored by Josephine, who Khaliah says possesses tremendous skill and energy teaching Dr. Johnson so much. Her respect and awe of the saintly African professionals staggers Dr. Johnson. They are hampered by no electricity much (most?) of the time so they can only work when the sun shines. Further, a major need is a water tank on one side of the tiny dispensary – running water of course being essential for providing care. The situation is further complicated by the economy and the weather. This is an arid part of Tanzania so most men have to leave for 6 months at a time to work where there’s work to be had, to support their families. Meanwhile back at CHOA, Dr. Johnson surrounds desperate families by working with them on coping with parenting and the emotional toil of having children who are so terribly endangered, and who will die soon. She expends huge amounts of energy assuring these moms and dads that they are good parents and that they have done everything humanly possible to protect their children. In that regard, healthcare in an African desert of 3500 people and CHOA serving tens of thousands face very similar challenges.

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
December 13, 2019 2:00pm