The family of the late Harold Alper, M.D., has honored his memory and humanitarian spirit by establishing an endowment fund with the Baroness Erlanger Foundation.
The endowment, launched during an awards ceremony Monday at Erlanger, provides funding for an annual Harold Alper, M.D., Resident Humanitarian Award, as well as an annual Harold Alper, M.D., Humanitarian Lecture Series.
Family members involved in Monday’s endowment presentation were Dr. Alper’s wife, Maxine; sons, Jeff and Ches Alper; daughter, Debby Alper; daughter-in-law, Donna Alper and grandson, Justin Alper.
Betsy Chapin Taylor, Chief Development Officer at Erlanger, said the purpose of the endowment, “is to commemorate in perpetuity Dr. Alper’s humanitarian values and devotion to care through an organization whose mission he devotedly advanced throughout his lifetime.”
Dr. Alper, an ear, nose and throat specialist, practiced medicine here for 57 years. He retired from Associates in Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery in 2004.
The first recipient of the Harold Alper, M.D., Resident Humanitarian Award was Dr. Laura Cooley, a senior Internal Medicine resident with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga. Other UTCOMC senior residents nominated for the first annual Harold Alper, M.D., Humanitarian Award were Dr. Laura Asbury, Pediatrics; Dr. Hans Burkholder, Surgery; Dr. Kye Higdon, Surgery; Dr. Eric Parks, Family Medicine and Dr. Alex Stock, Family Medicine.
UTCOMC Dean Dr. David Seaberg said, “We are very proud of these six nominees who have approached their residencies with the humanitarian spirit that this Alper Award celebrates. We feel honored to present this award in Harold Alper’s name in an effort to extend his love of humanity for generations to come.”
Presenting the first annual resident humanitarian award, Mrs. Alper told Dr. Cooley, “I congratulate you on behalf of my husband. He loved the residents, loved teaching, even volunteering to do so after he retired.”
“Despite technology and medical advances, what patients most fully appreciate is when they are treated with respect and compassion and that is what Dr. Alper and this annual award represent,” Erlanger CEO, Jim Brexler, noted during the awards presentation.
The Harold Alper M.D. Humanitarian Lecture Series will include one lecture intended for a community-wide audience, covering such topics as end-of-life care, spirituality in medicine, medical ethics, psycho-social care, health policy, cultural disparities in medicine, medicine and the arts or medicine and society.
A second lecture each year will be incorporated into and become an integral part of the UTCOMC faculty and resident core curriculum.
A Chattanooga native, Dr. Alper introduced microscopic and laser surgery to Chattanooga, and helped start the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Speech and Hearing Center. He also served as president of the Chattanooga –Hamilton County Medical Society, the Chattanooga Jewish Welfare Federation and the Jewish Community Center.
“Anybody who thinks nice guys finish last didn’t know Dr. Harold Alper,” said local surgeon and longtime colleague, Dr. Phillip Burns. “He finished first in the hearts and minds of those of us in Chattanooga. Dr. Alper was a consummate physician and surgeon who treated everyone the same – patients, physicians and staff - and was one of the most humane people I’ve ever met.”