Roast nets nearly $75,000 for free clinic

By Ginny Miller/NEMS Daily Journal





TUPELO – If there were any hurt feelings, the damage wasn’t permanent.
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” said Dr. David Irwin, who was roasted on Tuesday night by his colleagues and friends for a good cause – more than $70,000 for the Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Free Clinic.
“Just how did a country boy from Birmingham Ridge get to where he is today?” asked Dr. Rich Heyer, a roaster along with Dr. Richard Warriner, Dr. Jim Stone and nurse Barbara Fields. “The history of the honoree is quite interesting and bears explanation.”
The audience at The Summit Center hooted as Heyer spun tales about Irwin’s days as an ambulance driver, hinting that he lost the job after being caught stopping for a beer run while on duty. He also enlightened them to a few “Irwinisms.”
“The first is his thoughts on dieting,” Heyer said. “David’s thoughts on a balanced diet were described by him as a beer in each hand.”
Irwin, a cardiologist at Cardiology Associates of North Mississippi, took all the ribbing in stride.
Besides, “I know more stuff than they know about me,” he said. “And most of the stuff that’s bad involves them.”
Irwin said he participated in the clinic’s seventh annual roast for his friend, the late Antone Tannehill.
“Antone recruited me to Tupelo from Ochsner Clinic, and I came here in 1978,” he said. “Antone’s interest through his own ministry as a physician and as a Presbyterian elder pushed him to fight for the free clinic concept. When they found what they wanted to duplicate, they came back to Tupelo and they did it.”
Without it, “It’s life or death to 40,000 people,” Irwin said. “They’d be in the hospital, or they would ration themselves out of the health care delivery system.”
Paul “Buzzy” Mize, chairman of fund development and vice president of the clinic’s board, said the clinic on Magazine Street has had 43,591 visits since opening in the early 1990s.
“That’s 7,467 citizens,” he said, noting the clinic is for the eligible working uninsured and the temporarily unemployed residents of Lee County.
For the event to pull in $74,445 shows the community’s support.