ACOM Trengthens Community Ties

Rural Wiregrass Represented on Advisory Board

ACOM’s new advisory board members gather for their inaugural meeting.

People need doctors to support their health and well-being, but the number of practicing physicians dwindles every year. Wiregrass leaders in government and health care created the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, the academic division of Southeast Health, to address that need. ACOM opened in 2013, and in the decade since, it has established a reputation as a leading educational institution in the southeastern United States.

As its name gains prominence, ACOM leadership is prioritizing relationships at home by forming its first community advisory board. Volunteer members were invited by ACOM’s Dean Dr. James Jones to assist in a consultative capacity. “Asking them to be part of continuing to keep our area apprised and involved in the advancement of ACOM is what we’re doing by engaging these community leaders,” Jones says.

Community Council

ACOM Dean Dr. James Jones talks about ACOM’s strategic direction during the community advisory board’s first meeting.

The 9 member board is comprised of educators and business leaders. Brad Kimbro, chief operating officer of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, is among them. “It’s always good to be involved in something very instrumental to our community and its prosperity,” Kimbro says. “Wiregrass Electric is honored for the opportunity to help ACOM continue to attract students and look for ways to help the community through education and outreach.”

Other board members are Dr. William Admire, vice president and chief medical officer for the Mobile Infirmary and North Baldwin Infirmary; Dwight Gamble, CEO of HNB First Bank in Headland; Dr. Don Jeffrey, vice chancellor for Troy University’s Dothan campus; Dr. Zel Thomas, superintendent of Enterprise City Schools; Velma Tribue, retired owner of Velma J. Tribue State Farm Insurance Agency; Dr. Carmen Lewis, vice president of ACOM’s Division of Institutional Effectiveness; John McDaniel, ACOM board of directors chairman; and Dr. Audrey A. Vasauskas, ACOM director of Research and Grant Development.

Appointed board members were eager to dive into conversations about ACOM’s future at their inaugural board meeting earlier this year.

“There was a lot of energy in the room, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of engagement, and that was exciting for us because to see it come to fruition in that way was very fulfilling and what we had hoped,” Lewis says.

Mission Still Stands

ACOM was founded to strengthen the Wiregrass economy’s health care sector and stem the shortage of primary care physicians at home and abroad.

Its campus has mushroomed with more labs for interactive study and research. Nearby, a community garden and orchard will be planted, and a pavilion with a teaching kitchen for learning and fellowship is under construction. A satellite teaching clinic was erected in the town of Ashford, and another larger clinic is planned for the Taylor community.

“Our mission hasn’t changed. We’re laserfocused on generating high-performing graduates to enter the workforce in underserved and rural areas,” Jones says. As a service provider to a largely rural territory, WEC represents a unique perspective to support ACOM’s objectives.

“We believe having Brad will support our efforts to keep that community engaged,” Jones says. “I think he’ll be a great asset to us on the board.”