Marion Brothers

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Healthcare Hero Comes Home

By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roy C. Brooks is our hero. He is County Commissioner for Precint One, my home district. In today’s Star-Telegram editorial, he tells of his odyssey in healthcare reform, starting from his experience as a child watching his dad minister to the health needs of an impoverished community, down to witnessing President Barack Obama sign the Healthcare Reform Bill into law.

He writes: "I had tears in my eyes as I stood and bore witness after our president signed this life-changing piece of legislation, and, once again, made history... I'm eager to get back home and start working to put into action the benefits of healthcare reform in Tarrant County for all who have needed it for so long."

We say: Welcome Home, Hero. It was a hard fought battle, and a victory well won.

The Brooks family is in the healthcare business. Roy’s father is a legend in Fort Worth. He built his family clinic in the most economically depressed neighborhood and ministered to the poor.

As Roy writes: "As a young boy, I saw my father, Dr. Marion J. Brooks, practice medicine in this community. I would accompany him to the basement of St. Joseph's hospital, where the colored people who could afford it were treated, and later out into the communities in Tarrant County, where he would deliver his services, free of charge, to the many that could not afford it."

The clinic started by Jack Brooks and his brother continues today with Clarence, the youngest son. The family tradition holds true, as Roy writes: "There, right among us, were the people who needed healthcare desperately but could not access the system. For those with no health plan, there was Dr. Brooks."

When we were sick and had no money, we went to Dr. Brooks. He would never turn us away. He paid, out of his own pocket, the upfront cost for our medicine and various innoculations, and allowed us to pay him back, a little at a time, whenever we could.

I often wondered how the Brooks family could survive. Yet, I remember also that there was something almost sacred about the Hippocratic Oath to Doc Brooks, and something precious and nobel about serving his people.

He fought for black patients to receive fair healthcare at the white hospitals, where we were originally relegated to treatment in the hospital basement. His nephew, Michael Brooks, continued the struggle for equal rights and treatment of black physicans. Their empowerment meant greater access to healthcare for us.

The Brooks family history in healthcare, patient rights, and dignity of African-American physicans is long, even extending into the political arena, where Roy now serves as an elected county court commissioner for a precinct of over 300,000 people. Nevertheless, healthcare is in the blood and in the family genes.

During Roy Brooks first term in office, he took up the issue of healthcare for the homeless, and spearheaded Team Health which was aimed at reducing minority health disparity. He is a member of the Infant Mortality Steering Committee, because he realizes that infant mortality in our community is as high as some Third World Countries.

He is chairman of the National Association of Counties Healthcare Reform Task Force, a member of the Advisory Board of Community Hospice of North Texas, and board of director member of Fort Worth/Dallas Birthing Project. Beside the many other positions of leadership in his illustrious and accomplished bio, he is a member of the Board of Directors of National Association of Counties, and past president of the National Association of Black County Officials.

Upon his inaugrial to the Commissioners Court, he denoted that it was a position that he had prepared his whole life for. To this fact, I can attest, having watched him grow up through the years. His family is as close to me as my own family. His dad was a dad to me, and likewise his mother, Mrs Marie.

And, though I was not there to see the historic signing of the President’s healthcare reform bill, I could see it through the teary eyes of a lifelong friend, who now ranks among my greatest hero.

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