Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame names Dr. Hildreth among this year’s honorees

Dr. James Hildreth speaks during the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame’s sixth annual Induction Ceremony and Luncheon Reception at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, October 19, 2021. PHOTO FROM BELMONT UNIVERSITY


Meharry Medical College President and CEO Dr. James E.K. Hildreth was named among the 10 inductees recognized in the Tuesday, October 19th Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame ceremony honoring pioneers, leaders, educators, executives and researchers in the state’s health care industry.


The combined 2020 and 2021 classes were acknowledged at a ceremony held in Belmont University’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. According to a press release from Belmont University, the Hall of Fame recognizes “Tennessee’s most influential health and health care leaders [and] serves as an on-going educational resource to document the rich history that has contributed to Tennessee’s position as a leader for national health care initiatives.” The Hall of Fame was created by Belmont’s McWhorter Society and the Nashville Health Care Council and has been inducting health care leaders into its ranks since 2015.


Dr. Hildreth was honored as a member of the 2021 class for his role in catapulting Meharry to national prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing him as a “widely known and acclaimed immunologist, virologist, researcher and health care educator; advisor to local, state and national government on infectious diseases; advocate for minority communities and leader in fight for health equity.”


This year’s Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame ceremony honored both the 2020 and 2021 classes, combined due to the pandemic. Other inductees included:


From the 2020 class:

  • Monroe Dunaway “M.D.” Anderson—namesake for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the number one cancer center in the world
  • Phil Bredesen—health care entrepreneur, former Nashville mayor and Tennessee governor
  • Kathryn M. Edwards, M.D.—Sarah H. Sell and Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine with work focusing on vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases
  • Donald S. MacNaughton—former CEO and chair of HCA Healthcare and executive committee chair at HealthTrust
  • Scott Morris, M.D.—founder and CEO of Memphis’s Church Health, the largest faith-based, privately-funded health clinic in the country


From the 2021 class:

  • Tom Cigarran: Co-founder, former chair, director, president and CEO of Healthways (now Tivity Health); co-founder, former chair, director, president and CEO of AmSurg, Corp (now Envision); two-time former chair of the Nashville Health Care Council.
  • Autry O.V. “Pete” Debusk—founder and chair of DeRoyal Industries, Inc.; member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to Congress; Board of Trustees chair at Lincoln Memorial University
  • William E. Evans, Pharm.D.—former CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who led the hospital to increased cure rates for the most common pediatric cancers from 50 percent in 1975 to more than 90 percent in 2021
  • Robert Sanders, M.D.—former chair of the Accident Prevention Committee of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; advocate and lobbyist of the Child Passenger Protection Act; former director of the Rutherford County Health Department


More information and a complete list of the more than 30 individuals inducted since 2015 can be found on the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame website.