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Sidmel Estes

Media consultant and executive television producer Sidmel Estes was born on November 27, 1954 in Marysville, California, to Emellen Estes and Sidney Estes. Estes attended elementary and high school at public schools in Atlanta. She earned her B.S.J. degree in 1976, and her M.S.J. degree in 1977, both from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1979, Estes returned to Atlanta and was hired at WAGA-TV/Fox 5, where she served as the executive producer of numerous programs. She was the co-creator and executive producer of Good Day Atlanta, which became the number one show in its market, and won seven Emmy Awards under her direction. In 2006 Estes left WAGA-TV in order to found and serve as CEO of BreakThrough Inc., a media consulting firm whose clients include the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, the McCormick Tribune Fellows Foundation, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and the Atlanta Center for Creative Inquiry. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Emory University and Clark Atlanta University.

In 1991, Estes was elected the first woman president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Under her leadership NABJ increased its membership to over 2,000 journalists and was included in Ebony’s list of Top 100 Black Organizations. In 1994, she was a leader and co-creator of the first Unity Conference, an alliance of journalists of color, and was instrumental in the release of their report Kerner Plus 25: A Call For Action, which outlined steps the media industry should take to improve racial diversity.

During her prolific career in television and journalism, Estes has been recognized numerous times. Atlanta’s Mayor Andrew Young proclaimed “Sidmel Estes-Sumpter Day” on November 18, 1988 after she was named Media Woman of the Year by the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Media Women. She was featured in Ebony’s 100 Most Influential Black Americans in 1993, and in More Magazine’s book 50 Over 50. Estes was honored with the Silver Circle Award from the Television Academy and has won several Emmy Awards. She received Northwestern University’s Alumni Service Award after being elected as president of the Northwestern Black Alumni Association in 2004.

Estes married B. Garnett Sumpter in 1983, and they had two children, Joshua and Sidney.

Sidmel Estes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 17, 2014.

Sidmel Estes passed away on October 6, 2015.

Accession Number

A2014.065

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/17/2014

Last Name

Estes-Sumpter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Karen

Schools

M. Agnes Jones Elementary

Northside High School

Northwestern University

Frank L. Stanton Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sidmel

Birth City, State, Country

Marysville

HM ID

EST02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; Beaufort, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Everybody Needs A Breakthrough

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

11/27/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Honey Baked Ham

Death Date

10/6/2015

Short Description

Media consultant and television producer Sidmel Estes (1954 - 2015 ) was the founder and CEO of BreakThrough Inc. and the first woman president of the National Association of Black Journalists. She worked as an executive producer at WAGA-TV, where she created Good Day Atlanta.

Employment

BreakThrough, Inc.

WAGA-TV (Television station: Atlanta,Ga.)

KUAM-TV

Chicago Daily News

Chicago Defender

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sidmel Estes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about the Collier Heights neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes remembers her first experience of racial discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes lists her siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes describes her likeness to her father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sidmel Estes lists her siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about her siblings' professions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers the advice of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about the community organized busing in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes recalls her decision to become a journalist

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes describes the community on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes recalls her decision to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes remembers the student activism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about her internship at the Chicago Defender

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes remembers prominent black journalists from the start of her career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes recalls her experiences as an intern at the Chicago Defender

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers her internship at the Chicago Daily News

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes describes her experiences at the Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes remembers becoming a television reporter in Guam

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes describes her experiences at KUAM-TV in Guam

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes remembers joining WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes talks about the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes talks about the changes in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes describes her reaction to the Janet Cooke scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers meeting her former husband

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about her involvement in the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes talks about her civic engagement in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes recalls the major events of the late 1980s in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes talks about the FOX takeover of WAGA-TV

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes remembers developing the 'Good Day Atlanta' morning news show

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes remembers her election as president of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes describes her tenure as president of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes talks about FOX's management of WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes talks about Paula Walker Madison

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes remembers founding BreakThrough Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes describes her book projects

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes talks about the future of journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sidmel Estes describes the services offered at BreakThrough, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sidmel Estes talks about her teaching activities

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sidmel Estes describes the documentary 'Kerner Plus 40: Change or Challenge'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sidmel Estes describes her hopes and concerns for African American journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Sidmel Estes remembers her proposal to buy Ebony and Jet

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes talks about the UNITY: Journalists of Color organization

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sidmel Estes reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sidmel Estes reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sidmel Estes talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sidmel Estes describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sidmel Estes narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sidmel Estes narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Sidmel Estes remembers the advice of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sidmel Estes describes her tenure as president of the National Association of Black Journalists
Transcript
Now, you had an incident when y- when you were in, I guess the third grade [at M. Agnes Jones Elementary School, Atlanta, Georgia], when you were eight?$$Um-hm.$$You took ballet--$$Um-hm.$$--with Yoki King [Yolanda King], you were telling us.$$Right.$$There's an historic moment that you experienced here. Tell us what happened.$$Well, like I said, Yoki and I were both sort of the little chunky girls in ballet, because they like you to be (gesture) this thin, being a ballerina. But to Atlanta Ballet's credit, they were trying to reach out to the community. So, they would send their top teachers. And I will never forget, a woman named Madame Hildegarde [Hildegarde Bennett Tornow] would always come to Spelman College [Atlanta, Georgia] to teach. And so, we were taking ballet. Like I said, we did 'The Nutcracker' [Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky] every Christmas. But these little skinny girls decided to make fun of me, and they pulled a chair out from up under me. And fortunately, we were practicing in the gym, so it was a wooden floor, not a concrete floor. So, I wasn't seriously hurt, but my feelings were hurt more. So, Yoki and I after class were outside waiting on our ride. And here drives up Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] in a, I will never forget it, a black, big black car. And when he--I sat in the back seat, and I was just crying, crying. He said, "Child, what's wrong with you?" And I told him what had happened. And to this day, I will never forget. He said, "Child, if that's the worst thing that's going to ever happen to you, you are a blessed child." And I never forgot that. And I had--my tears went away then, because I just sat there and I would think about it: that wasn't really that bad, especially some of the things that I have faced later on in life. But he was being prophetic to me then, at eight years old, that I was going to go through stuff in life, and I had to get used to it.$$Hm, okay. So, what kind of car did he have? Do you remember?$$It was a Buick. I remember the big, black Buick.$$Now, this is 1962, I guess, right, when you were eight?$$Yeah, something like '61 [1961], '62 [1962].$$Did he have a new car, or it was an old, older car?$$It was sort of used, it wasn't brand new. It wasn't fancy. It wasn't huge. You know, it was a regular old car.$$Okay, okay. And do you remember the color? I'm just, I'm just thinking--$$Black.$$Black, okay. I'm thinking it was black in my head, but I don't--$$Um-hm, um-hm. Yeah, black on black. I will never forget that (laughter).$$Well, that's something. So, that's, that is--now he's picking her up himself from--$$Yeah, and that was the only time I ever remember him picking her up. And very rarely did he make our recitals. Because we're now talking, you know, the height of the Civil Rights Movement. So, he was never there.$$Yeah, things really got--$$Yeah, '62 [1962], '63 [1963] (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) involved. Yeah, '63 [1963], Birmingham [Alabama], '64 [1964] was, you know, leading into Selma [Selma to Montgomery March] and all that.$$He was never home, never home.$$Yeah, the March on Washington was the next year.$$Right, right.$$So, he was very busy. And, did your parents [Emellen Mitchell Estes and Sidney Estes] know him, I mean, know Dr. King?$$They knew him cursorily, they were not close to him. But they trusted him enough to pick up their daughter and get me home. And then we did, you know, vice versa. So, I guess it's a mutual trust society going on there.$Well, tell us. What was your agenda as president of the National Association of Black Journalists, what--in 1991? What--where were you going to take the organization?$$Well, people tease me. The night I was inaugurated and they announced that I had won and tears were just streaming down my face, I stood up and I told the industry, I said, "You have never dealt with a black woman from the South before." And I meant that, you know, because sometimes they would take advantage of NABJ, a lot of these big news organizations. So, my agenda--$$In what way? What do you mean?$$Well, people who were supposed to get promoted weren't getting promoted.$$Okay.$$Our numbers were not very high at the time (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Not organizationally, but as individual black people working in the--$$Right, in the newsroom.$$The members of NABJ.$$Now, remember I had from two to three thousand members across the country. It started out at two thousand. By the time I finished, it was up to three thousand. But one thing I did do, we had what we call the Pierre summit. And it was at The Pierre hotel in New York City [New York, New York]. And it was me and every president of journalists of color organizations. There was four of us. And I'm the only woman. But we sat down with the CEOs of every major media company and told them what we had--from Knight Ridder, to the president of the Newspaper Association of America [News Media Alliance], to you know, the Tribune Company [Tribune Media Company], to the Gannett Company [Gannett Company, Inc.], to The New York Times, Washington Post [The Washington Post]. These guys came to that meeting. And for two very long days, and very difficult days, we sat down and we told them why we have a problem in the industry--how the stories aren't being told properly--because your people don't know how to go into these communities. So, that was a major accomplishment. I also think that we did have a significant number of people who entered the business. I even have people now who run up and tell me, kind of embarrasses me, and say, "I remember you when I was in college, and you came to speak. And you inspired me so much." I was like, "Thank you." And now, they're in--they're working journalists, or they're on the air, and doing things like this. So, that was number one, was jobs. Number two was justice in terms of telling the story like it is. And number three was fair representation of the community, because that was not being shown. Merv Aubespin [Mervin Aubespin] used to say that, "Unless people see themselves in the newspaper, they can't use it." And most newspapers, you don't see yourself, you don't see your neighbors, you don't see people of achievement out there. So, people aren't going to buy the papers. And they wonder why there's a problem. So, and we were very, very successful. People were scared, as they put it, of Sidmel [HistoryMaker Sidmel Estes].$$Okay, okay. So, did you get, you know, compliance generally from--I mean were they, did things change any?$$Yeah, it changed. And it--and we did have--even though it was a different administration--we did have the power of the law. You know, the fairness doctrine was still very strong. Equal opportunity and equal hiring was still very strong. People were actually talking about racial issues in the community. And so, that's what I think made the big difference from then, and as--instead of right now.$$Okay. So, anything else from your tenure? Did--as president?$$Well, we created the Ethel Payne scholarship [Ethel Payne Fellowship], which is a scholarship where journalists can go to Africa and spend time there and follow stories from there. And that was a big accomplishment. We su- supported and strengthened the Ida B. Wells Award, which is still being given out to- today. We also put the organization--not only in terms of the number of members, but the--our financial position was tremendous. We were giving out scholarship money right and left. I remember we did one at The Kennedy Center [The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.], where we gave out scholarships. So, the fact that--and we started both broadcast short courses during my administration--one at FAMU [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida] and the other one at North Carolina A and T [North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina]. And those two programs just celebrated their twentieth anniversary. I'm very proud of that.$$Okay, okay. So, you were president from '91 [1991] until--$$Ninety-three [1993].$$Okay.$$And then I was the immediate past president. I was on their board longer than (laughter) than I ever knew.

Almeta Cooper

Association general counsel Almeta Cooper was born in 1950 to her mother Patricia Carter Cooper and her father. She attended Wells College in Aurora, New York, graduating with her B.A. degree in 1972. She then attended Northwestern University School of Law in Evanston, Illinois earning her J.D. degree from there in 1975.

Cooper went on to pursue a career in health law. She began her work as assistant director of health law at the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1977. She then worked as legal counsel for Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1982, MCP Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s, and the Ohio State Medical Association in Columbus, Ohio in 1999. In the early 2000s, Cooper became Associate Vice President for Health Sciences and Associate General Counsel for Health Sciences at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. In 2014, she became the senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Morehouse School of Medicine. She has been very involved in the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) since 1980, serving as the first African American woman president of the organization in 2003 among many other leadership roles. In 2012, Cooper was named a fellow of the AHLA in order to continue her contribution to the association. She is also an active member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and sits on a program committee for the Physician Legal Issues Conference and chairs the Public Health and Policy Interest Group. Cooper lectures regularly at law education conferences and other professional gatherings on topics such as “Medical Staff: The Fault Line between Physicians and Hospitals” and “How to Stay Focused on a Health Law Career.” Cooper was honored as a Mentor by the 2011 Top Corporate Counsel awards from Columbus Business First.

In addition to her health law career, Cooper was involved in numerous groups and organizations, including serving as president of the Central Ohio Links Inc. Chapter. She is also involved with Columbus Reads, the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, and the YWCA Family Center. She was awarded the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award in 2009 to honor her commitment to her community.

Almeta Cooper was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 10, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.163

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/10/2013 |and| 8/18/2018

Last Name

Cooper

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Schools

Wells College

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Loudon Elementary School

Millbrook Park Elementary School

Spelman College

John F. Kennedy High School

Schiller International University

First Name

Almeta

Birth City, State, Country

Durham

HM ID

COO11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

You Should Always Have A Dollar For The Robber. If You Don’t, He Will Kill You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

12/27/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Corporate general counsel Almeta Cooper (1950 - ) was senior vice president of health services and general counsel for The Ohio State University Medical Center.

Employment

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

American Medical Association (AMA)

Meharry Medical College

MCP Hahnemann University

Ohio State Medical Association

Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation (AHERF)

St. Thomas Hospital

Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Almeta Cooper's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Almeta Cooper lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Almeta Cooper describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Almeta Cooper talks about her maternal great-grandfather, Hawkins W. Carter

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Almeta Cooper describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Almeta Cooper talks about her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Almeta Cooper describes her maternal grandparents' professions

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Almeta Cooper describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Almeta Cooper talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Almeta Cooper describes her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Almeta Cooper remembers moving with her family to Willingboro, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Almeta Cooper talks about her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Almeta Cooper describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Almeta Cooper remembers her father's sense of humor

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Almeta Cooper talks about her sister

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Almeta Cooper describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Almeta Cooper recalls her home in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Almeta Cooper describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Almeta Cooper talks about her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Almeta Cooper recalls her academic strengths

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Almeta Cooper remembers her early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Almeta Cooper talks about moving to a predominantly white area of New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Almeta Cooper talks about her accelerated education program

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Almeta Cooper remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Almeta Cooper recalls her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Almeta Cooper remembers John F. Kennedy High School in Willingboro, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Almeta Cooper remembers her cousin's advice to study law

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Almeta Cooper recalls her decision to attend Wells College in Aurora, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Almeta Cooper remembers the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Almeta Cooper describes the black community at Wells College in Aurora, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Almeta Cooper remembers her travels abroad

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Almeta Cooper recalls her college exchange programs

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Almeta Cooper remembers her trip to Germany

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Almeta Cooper describes her time at Spelman College, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Almeta Cooper describes her time at Spelman College, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Almeta Cooper remembers the mentorship of R. Eugene Pincham

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Almeta Cooper recalls her mentors at Wells College in Aurora, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Almeta Cooper remembers her summer employment at the Western Union Company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Almeta Cooper remembers the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Almeta Cooper recalls her mentors at the Northwestern University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Almeta Cooper recalls her classmates at the Northwestern University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Almeta Cooper recalls joining the law firm of Vedder, Price, Kaufman and Kammholz, P.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Almeta Cooper recalls her position at the American Medical Association

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Almeta Cooper remembers being recruited to work for Dr. David Satcher

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Almeta Cooper recalls her challenges at the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Almeta Cooper recalls the highlights of her time at the Meharry Medical College

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Almeta Cooper talks about her marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Almeta Cooper recalls her position at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Almeta Cooper recalls joining the Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Almeta Cooper describes her role at the Ohio State Medical Association

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Almeta Cooper talks about the Ohio State Medical Association Frivolous Lawsuit Committee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Almeta Cooper reflects upon her time at the Ohio State Medical Association

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Almeta Cooper describes her position at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Almeta Cooper recalls her challenges at The Ohio State University Medical Center

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Almeta Cooper reflects upon her professional accomplishments

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Almeta Cooper talks about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Almeta Cooper talks about her civic engagement

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Almeta Cooper reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Almeta Cooper describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Almeta Cooper talks about her friendship with Earlene Wandrey

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Almeta Cooper talks about her daughter

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Almeta Cooper describes her support from the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Almeta Cooper describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Almeta Cooper narrates her photographs

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Almeta Cooper talks about the Ohio State Medical Association Frivolous Lawsuit Committee
Almeta Cooper recalls her challenges at The Ohio State University Medical Center
Transcript
Now this was in your file, a frivolous liability case filed against a Dr. Michael A. Banks, in 2007. Did, did you have anything to do with that?$$Right, well, that's what I was talking about, the frivolous lawsuit committee [Ohio State Medical Association Frivolous Lawsuit Committee] that I was involved in, is that what, there were several cases and I'm not sure if this was Dr. Banks' case but there was a case where, one example was, where the physician, the plaintiff, basically, had the plaintiff's lawyer tell the physician's lawyer that, "If you would agree to make a payment to me, even though I know that your physician doesn't have any liability, then we'll release you from the lawsuit." Well that's a very egregious situation right there and, you know, most malpractice companies at the time really didn't have the, the focus to really pursue when those types of situations arose so we were able to put a, you know, kind of shine a spotlight on that kind of conduct and say this is inconsistent with what the standards are in Ohio, you, you know, you cannot do that. And so that was a case where it was found in favor, the one I'm describing, in favor of the physician plaintiff, not the physician plaintiff, I mean, in terms of the physician who brought an allegation of frivolous lawsuit against the lawyer who represented that, that particular plaintiff. That we had another situation where a, a physician, we had another situation where a physician had a name that didn't sound like the typical name that you might hear in Ohio. It wasn't Cooper, it was another name, and the plaintiff's lawyer brought a lawsuit against this physician simply because she had the same last name as the physician who was actually involved in the medical care of the patient and the physician was very upset and she complained and we looked into her case and the lawyer did withdraw the case, but, you know, what people don't understand is once you're named in the case, you have to, you know, notify your company, you have to, you know, the company spends money to get you dismissed and so, you know, those, that, that all adds to the cost and expense of professional liability action. So--$$And adds to the cost of healthcare eventually, right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) And adds to the cost of healthcare, exactly, exactly. So we were very excited to have some success in, in that arena.$What's been the biggest challenge working f- at Ohio State [The Ohio State University Medical Center; The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio]?$$Well, in the last year, probably the single largest challenge I've had, and it's been in the papers so I can talk about it. We did have an unfortunate incident in which there was a mistake in referral of a proficiency test in our clinical laboratory and a proficiency test is a test that's used to validate the testing that is done in the clinical laboratory. It's not, it does not involve a patient, an actual patient, and what happens is that you're supposed to treat that sample just as you would treat a real patient specimen except you do not process it all the way to its natural conclusion but you send it back to the testing authority and in this instance, one of our employees mistakenly referred it, treated it as a patient specimen and referred it to another laboratory. So, in the clinical laboratory world, even though at the time OSU was doing 10 million tests a year and ten thousand of these proficiency tests, there wasn't any flexibility in the way the code of regulations were written to allow CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] to be flexible with the medical center in terms of what kind of penalty would be assessed and, fortunately, during the time, during the nine months or so that this process was going on there was, the TEST Act [Taking Essential Steps for Testing Act of 2012] was passed which did give CMS more flexibility but in addition, we had very excellent outside counsel. I was able to identify the top lawyer at, Hope Foster [Hope S. Foster], who was at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Mintz Levin [Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.], who represented us and through the teamwork, both of the staff and the leadership in the laboratory, with excellent representation, I'm very pleased to say that in the end we were able to resolve the situation with CMS and it did not result in the very severe penalty of not being able to own or operate a clinical laboratory. So, but along the way we discovered a lot of opportunities that we could, that we needed to address as an organization and as a result of that, one of the things is that, in fact, I'm just in the transition of beginning to do this. I'm now the executive director for HHS [health and human services] advocacy, regulatory and quality improvement program so I will be doing more of this type of work to try to assist us as an organization in addressing any issues that we might have that relates to that, that regulatory environment.