John A. Minielly, MD
President, Tulsa County Retired Physicians
Retired member of the AMA
Q: As president of the Retired Physician Organization of Tulsa County Medical Society, can you tell us how the group got started and how many members it currently has?
A: In 1998, the late physicians, Drs. Worth Gross and Hall Ketchum, with support from the Tulsa County Medical Society (TCMS), started the Golden Oldies as a social group that meets twice a year so retired doctors can continue to nurture the relationships that have grown. were developed in the clinical setting over many years.
In 2000, Dr. Jerry Gustafson, a retired surgeon, became the program coordinator with four monthly social and informational meetings with presentations from various community organizations – Youth Services of Tulsa, Tulsa City County Health Department, TCMS programs Foundation and the OU-TU School of Medicine. All meetings are now held at the C Wallace Hooser Conference Center in the TCMS building.
In 2020, Dr. John Minielly, a retired pathologist, became the program coordinator and the Golden Oldies merged with the Tulsa County Retired Physicians Group which had met for several years at Ascension St. John Medical Center. The name “Golden Oldies” was dropped and the combined group continues as the Retired Physicians of Tulsa County. Currently, the Tulsa Retired Physicians group has 225 members.
Q: How is your group governed and what types of activities does it participate in?
A: A committee of retired physicians meets to plan meetings and discuss topics that may be of interest to the group. We also have the support of Mark McElreath, MPA, Executive Director of the Tulsa County Medical Society and TCMS Foundation, and Joetta Cunningham, Director of Operations, to accomplish the activities set out by the group.
In addition to these gatherings, retired physicians participate in community service programs. In the late 1990s, Dr. Gustafson and the late Dr. George Prothro, executive director of the Tulsa County Health Department, working with the Oklahoma State Board of Health and Pharmacy, the State legislators and nursing homes, have received approval for a recycling program of unopened drugs sourced from local nursing homes and delivered to the city-county pharmacy for distribution to indigent patients.
Prior to this unique program, these drugs were flushed down the toilet and contaminating the water supply. The drug recycling program has become a model for similar programs now being implemented nationwide. Tulsa’s retired doctors continue to be very active as “drug dealers” to collect and deliver these drugs. To date, a retail value of $28,163,890 has been distributed and the value of a single recent pickup was $84,000. The group also participates in the biannual Tulsa Drug Elimination Program sponsored by the Oklahoma Board of Narcotics and local police.
Q: How does the organization provide social and scholarship opportunities for senior physician members? Do you have any committees and speakers planned for the coming year?
A: Tulsa’s retired doctors strive to provide social and fellowship opportunities between 3 and 6 times a year. These range from luncheons with guest speakers on topics relevant to our group, including community nonprofits, trends in medicine, emerging technologies and more. The group also hosted social events at the Gilcrease Museum, Philbrook Museum, and Tulsa Botanical Gardens. We host a holiday dinner every year and are in the process of planning next year’s topics and events.
Q: Does your group advocate at the federal and state levels on major health issues impacting patients and physicians? Is your group affiliated with other educational institutions to further its mission?
A: Many of our retired physicians continue to advocate at the state level by participating in Medicine Day at the State Capitol and meeting with state officials and senators. We have a strong relationship with the College of Osteopathic Medicine at OSU and the School of Community Medicine at OU-TU, where our group members were graduates and faculty.
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