December 2019 Champion!

Dr. Randall Morgan

Orthopedic Surgeon in Sarasota, Florida

Wonder what a word in the right place can do? Dr. Randall Morgan is an example of it.

The orthopedic surgeon understands the link between the climate crisis and health, especially among low-income minority patients. Dr. Morgan practices in Sarasota, Florida, and has direct knowledge of the effects of climate change – heat, high water, and hurricanes.

Dr. Morgan is founding executive director of the Cobb Institute, dedicated to research and the spread of information to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care, and racism in medicine. The institute was founded by the National Medical Association and works closely with it. He’s also a member of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, an alliance of health care providers dedicated to learning about health harms of climate change and advocating for equitable solutions.

Dr. Morgan spoke about two years ago with Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chair of the NMA Commission on Environmental Health. (Dr. Mitchell also is State Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.) From their talks and through the Cobb Institute’s annual symposium in Tampa, Florida, a joint information and advocacy effort for Florida was born.

Dr. Mitchell had a large part in this, Dr. Morgan says. “The climate change topic probably came about more through his interest, and his interest in the Cobb Institute to raise awareness,” Dr. Morgan says. “My role is to facilitate the dissemination of information regarding climate change, and to draw a correlation between climate change and health disparities, which is the area the Cobb Institute is primarily interested in.”

Dr. Morgan sees paths forward. For instance, the Cobb Institute would continue its research and information-dissemination work. He’d like to involve medical students, notably those affiliated with the NMA, who could press school administrators to include more information about climate change in the curricula. “Students are many times ahead of the practicing doctors because they are socially conscious,” he says.

There also should be more involvement with the broader healthcare community, Dr. Morgan says. He recalls a forum with nursing, physical therapy and premedical students in attendance in Tampa, Florida. All the students were very concerned about climate change and health. Forum activities are planned to be reported in the future.

Dr. Morgan says Florida Clinicians for Climate Action and the Cobb Institute are vital in spreading the word to more physicians and encouraging involvement. “More physicians could become more knowledgeable,” he says.