Joseph B. Cofer, MD, FACS, of Chattanooga, has been named a TMA Quarterly PublicHealth Champion for 2012. The honor recognizes TMA member physicians for their outstanding publichealth contributions across the state of Tennessee.
Dr. Cofer is being recognized for his efforts to improve healthcare quality and efficiency, as well as access to care. He is a member and former president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County MedicalSociety (CHCMS).
A general surgeon on staff at Erlanger Medical Center, Dr. Cofer is chairman of the TennesseeSurgical Quality Collaborative (TSQC) Leadership Committee and vice-president of the Tennessee Chapterof the American College of Surgeons. He is also chair and founder of Project Access in Chattanooga, whichprovides health care for the working poor.
He co-authored a study examining the results of Tennessee hospital participation in theTSQC and found it significantly reduced hospital complications, and saved about $8 million over a one year period. Tennessee is not the first state but was an early adopter of collaborative efforts to improvecare and performance in hospitals; Dr. Cofer cites the partnership between the Tennessee HospitalAssociation, Tennessee Chapter of ACS, and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation as aunique collaboration between three entities that normally have competing interests.
“I don’t know anyother collaboration that has that three-legged stool. We banded together to put patient outcomes andpatient safety first,” he said in an interview about the project.
In 2007 he was awarded the TMA Distinguished Service Award for his vision and leadership increating and directing Project Access, which has contributed nearly $88 million in healthcare services caring for 300-400 patients a month. In addition to being a leader and organizer, Dr. Cofer is a volunteer physician in the program.His other accomplishments include a term as president of the Association of Program Directors inSurgery.
In 2006, he was named Surgeon Champion at Erlanger Medical Center for the American Collegeof Surgeon’s (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Project; was named to a three-year-term on the Information Technology Committee of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center inMemphis; and was appointed to the Editorial Board for The American Surgeon, official journal of theSoutheastern Surgical Congress. Dr. Cofer also served on the TMA’s Interprofessional Liaison Committeefrom 1998-2006. He currently serves as vice-chairman of the American Board of Surgery.Dr. Cofer received his medical degree in 1978 from the University of Tennessee Health ScienceCenter in Memphis and practices with University Surgical Associates, PC, of Chattanooga.