San Francisco native Meron Haile, MD, will continue the legacy of one of ophthalmology’s most passionate supporters of resident advocacy
WASHINGTON, D.C.–– The American Academy of Ophthalmology established the fund to honor the late founding chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Howard University College of Medicine, Robert Copeland Jr., M.D. It’s a permanent endowment to continue his legacy of advocating for his patients and residents. Dr. Copeland dedicated his career to closing disparities in health care and growing the ranks of minorities in his profession. One of his best strategies was to take all his ophthalmology residents with him to Capitol Hill every year to participate in Congressional Advocacy Day. Congressional Advocacy Day is an annual opportunity to speak with members of Congress on issues that affect patients, hosted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The fund covers the annual expenses for one resident to attend Congressional Advocacy Day.
“If you do not advocate for what is morally right, then others will determine our fate,” Dr. Copeland said of his annual trek to Capitol Hill. Today, San Francisco native and first Copeland Fellow, Meron Haile, M.D., is on the Hill advocating for what is morally right.
Dr. Haile was chosen because she is forging a career path like Dr. Copeland’s. Currently, she is chief resident at California Pacific Medical Center’s Department of Ophthalmology/Lions Eye Clinic, where she provides high-quality care to people who don’t have insurance or have limited incomes. Like Dr. Copeland, she’s also interested in international medicine, with aspirations to help build an eye clinic in her parent’s homeland, Ethiopia.
She’s also dedicated to increasing the number of minority ophthalmologists to help reduce health care disparities. She said she can see the difference it makes to have a doctor who looks like you, as soon as she walks into an exam room. Their bodies relax, they communicate more, they trust more.
“Dr. Copeland was a standout leader who cared deeply for his patients and his mentees and fostered a spirit of advocacy in the ophthalmology community and beyond,” Dr. Haile said. “I promise to carry on Dr. Copeland's legacy of advocacy throughout my career, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to learn more about how I can help us realize our mutual goals.”
The National Medical Association, the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States, selected Dr. Haile as the first Copeland Fellow.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.