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Dr. Carlton A. West

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Carlton A. West was born on December 12, 1943, in Montezuma, Georgia. He grew up on a farm in the central part of Georgia. West earned his B.A. degree in biology in 1965. Dr. Mayes encouraged him to make the Deans list in order to receive scholarship money. West made the Deans list twice and scored high on the MCAT. The summer of his senior year in college, he was exposed to the medical world firsthand through his internship at Harlem Hospital in New York City. This exposure to medicine inspired him to pursue medicine. Without the intention to attend medical school, West was the first student in his class to be accepted into a medical university. He graduated from Meharry University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1965.

After graduating from medical school, West interned at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, for one year for a general surgery residency. He then took a year off to be the medical director of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams’ Health Center based at Providence Hospital on Chicago’s South Side. After a year hiatus from surgery, West began his residency at Yale University, completing it in 1975. That same year, he returned to Chicago to open a private practice in orthopedic surgery. In 1977, he became board certified and joined the staff at Michael Reese Hospital. West’s notable patients included the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, the late Eugene Sawyer, Evel Knievel, Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis, Jr., and many others.

West served on the Board of the American Diabetes Association and Operation PUSH/Rainbow Coalition. In addition, he served as the President of the Chicago chapter of Meharry University and was a member of Sarasan fraternal order of physicians.

West enjoyed fishing and skiing, remained a resident of Chicago, and was a father and husband.

Dr. Carlton West passed away on March 11, 2016.

Accession Number

A2008.091

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/17/2008

Last Name

West

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

Meharry Medical College

Morehouse College

Flint River Farms School

First Name

Carlton

Birth City, State, Country

Montezuma

HM ID

WES05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southwestern United States

Favorite Quote

Winners Make Things Happen. Losers Let Things Happen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/12/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Hot Dogs

Death Date

3/11/2016

Short Description

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Carlton A. West (1943 - 2016 ) had a private practice for forty years, and he also worked at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. His patients included Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer, Evel Knievel, Muhammad Ali and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Employment

Michael Reese Hospital

Provident Hospital

Yale New Haven Hospital

Favorite Color

Green

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Carlton A. West's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Carlton A. West lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his mother's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his parents' resourcefulness

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes the Flint River Farms in Macon County, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his family's house in Flint River Farms

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls his early awareness of segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers the Flint River Farms School in Macon County, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers the teachers at the Flint River Farms School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers his early role models

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his early religious experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his activities at the New Hope Baptist Church in Montezuma, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his childhood friends and pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers D.F. Douglass High School in Montezuma, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers his high school activities

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls his admission to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers Morehouse College President Benjamin E. Mays

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his experiences at Morehouse College, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls the SNCC demonstrations in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls the black business community in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls the SNCC demonstrations in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his experiences at Morehouse College, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls his decision to attend Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls his parents' support

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls his medical internship at New York City's Harlem Hospital

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his early interest in orthopedic medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes the orthopedic issues in the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about his medical residencies

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls his orthopedic residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about the advancements in orthopedic medicine

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Carlton A. West recalls opening a private orthopedic practice

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about his celebrity patients

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about treating professional athletes

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his orthopedic practice

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes the misconceptions about African Americans' bone anatomy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about the syndromes of bone overuse and underuse

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about chiropractic care

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers treating Evel Knievel, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. Carlton A. West remembers treating Evel Knievel, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about bone fracture complications

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his recommendations for improving bone health

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his organizational activities

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Carlton A. West reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Carlton A. West talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Carlton A. West describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

10$10

DATitle
Dr. Carlton A. West describes his parents' resourcefulness
Dr. Carlton A. West talks about his medical residencies
Transcript
When you, I guess, think about the personalities of your parents, their talents, their gifts, their dispositions, who do you think you take after the most?$$Well, probably a little of both, some of both. My mother [Estella Fleming West] was a very industrious woman. And she was a great manager of the household. She--house stayed immaculately clean. She washed; she sewed; she made quilts; she canned vegetables during the summer, fruit, such as peaches during the summer. Later on when we got a freezer, she would freeze vegetables. And we never really were ever hungry or ever suffered or thought about food and same thing about clothing. And the truth of the matter is, even though we were dirt farmers, I didn't realize that we were considered poor by other people's standards until I was a grown man. I thought we were well off. My father [Rufus West] was a great manager of money. The money that we made from the farm [in Flint River Farms, Macon County, Georgia] he had a unique way of managing the household bills in his own way. And I really didn't understand it until I was a grown man. We used to do a lot of sharecropping, such as raising okra, raising cucumbers, and other things. And as we we'll take it to market, whenever you take any of that to market, they didn't pay you in cash. They paid him in a, a check, and so he would save those checks. And he had a little strong box. He would have his check marked--a bunch of checks marked September, another bunch of checks marked October, another bunch of checks marked December, all the way into the next year. And what it was, he wouldn't cash those checks until those months rolled around. And so that way he would make sure that he had money to pay for utilities and other things until we were able to have harvest from the crops the next year.$$Okay, well, so, he wasn't afraid that the account that the check was drawn on would dry up before he cashed it, or?$$Well, no, I guess not, I guess not. In a small community everybody knows each other, and you know the banker and everybody else. And so everybody pretty much knew what his habits were and what other people's habits were. And to my knowledge, he never had any problem cashing the checks, you know, as far as the checks getting stale.$$Okay, all right. It seems like a risk during Depression [Great Depression] days, but I, I don't know. But that's--$$Well--(laughter) I guess so.$$He--$$But--$$--he knew what he was doing apparently though, so.$$He knew what he was doing.$$Okay.$$But, and on the other hand, like I said, it didn't take a lot of money to maintain us because we raised pretty much everything that we needed on the farm. We raised vegetables; we had cows for milk; we had pigs; we had chickens; other times we'd go hunting and get wild game. And so, you know, everybody made it at that time on, on, on, on, on tight budgets.$Did you go to Yale right after graduation in '69 [1969] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No, I didn't. After I finished Meharry [Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee], I did my internship here in Chicago [Illinois] at Michael Reese Hospital [Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center].$$Okay, all right.$$And I did one year of general surgery residency at Michael Reese Hospital because at that time you were required to do another year of post graduate training before you were allowed to do an orthopedic residency. And then after that, around that time, got married and started a family. And I took a year off and worked at the Daniel Hale Williams Health Center here in Chicago as a medical director. And--$$Now is that on the West Side [Chicago, Illinois], the, the Daniel--?$$No. It was based at Provident Hospital [Provident Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois] on 51st Street, directly behind--$$Okay.$$--the, the health center, a leased space there. And I did one year of working there and got a, a good financial base and the, the next year started my residency at Yale.$$Okay, so this is 1971 then?$$We are now at 1972--$$Okay.$$--is, is when I entered the residency at Yale New Haven Hospital [New Haven, Connecticut].$$Okay. All right, so, well, how was that? Now you go from Meharry to Yale. Did you have any trepidation about now I'm going to Yale, and this is supposed to be, you know, this top school, Harvard [Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts] and Yale are the top schools in the country, did you--$$Well, I was very grateful to have been admitted there and was very excited, you know, about going to a prestigious institution such as Yale. Just as I said earlier, all along the way from elementary school [Flint River Farms School, Macon County, Georgia], high school [D.F. Douglass High School, Montezuma, Georgia], college, I always knew that I was headed some place, and it was my goal--but never knew exactly where. I never--at the end of the four years at Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia], I wasn't sure where that was going to take me, but at the end of those four years, there was something that God presented to me. And that was--allowed me to get a good score on the MCAT and presented Meharry to me. Then at--as I went through Meharry, I had no idea where life would take me after Meharry. You know, for us who don't have families or family members who are already in the profession, we are really trailblazing and pioneering into an unknown territory. And so, at the end of my medical school years, I was able to get into Michael Reese. And this was the, at about the time that many institutions were beginning to integrate and were opening up their institutions to a select few blacks to come in. And, and I happened to be one of the fortunate ones that was able to get a good residency and good internship at, at, at Michael Reese. And the same, I think, with, with Yale, it was at a point where they wanted to broaden their, their program. At Yale I was the second black to go through the orthopedic residency program.