Susan first became involved with the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington when its director, Marcia Howery, recruited her as a volunteer. In 1999, Susan joined the board and, as she describes, “it just blossomed from there.” She has served as both medical director and president of the Free Clinic. She also volunteers at the New Heights Clinic, a church-based primary care clinic providing outpatient chronic medical care.
Through her volunteer work, Susan has found her passion. “Those who use the Free Clinic are not what people typically think of as needing its services,” she said. “Many are unemployed or work part-time or for small businesses that can’t afford insurance.” It is this issue of access that drives Susan: “I feel for the people who don’t have access – because other than the ER, they have no place to go. And it is the part of practicing medicine that I enjoy – helping people with issues and barriers – because they seem to appreciate it more. They are very grateful.”
Susan’s impact extends beyond the patients she treats to include the creation of systems and services that benefit the uninsured. Her tenure on the Free Clinic board spanned a transitional time for the organization and included its move to the Jim Parsley Center in 2001. The clinic currently offers medical, dental, vision, immunization and wellness clinics – and with Susan’s leadership, it is looking to offer even more. She serves on the committee which is working to establish Project Access, offering specialized care through regular doctor’s offices. When it opens to patients this spring, the program will include not only the physicians themselves but also hospitals, laboratories and other medical support services needed to offer specialized care. Again, Susan cites issues of access and insurance as the impetus for her work. “There is such a huge population that cannot afford unsubsidized insurance,” she said. “We need to open access to more people for more things.”
“Dr. Susan Davis has demonstrated a huge heart for those who are often forgotten or neglected or in trouble or imprisoned in our community,” wrote her nominator, Mari Greves. “I am in awe of Susan’s energy, inspired by her dedicated, professional service to our less fortunate patients, and have marveled at her kindness and compassion for others.”
Susan counts her 23-year marriage to husband Jeff Davis and her four daughters – Michelle, Sarah, Emily and Kim – as her most significant personal accomplishments.
While Susan readily acknowledges that being named a Woman of Achievement is a wonderful honor, the opportunity the recognition provides is not lost on her. “I feel very honored to be considered and given the honor,” she said, adding “This as a wonderful way to tell people about the Free Clinic and encourage them to become involved.”