About Charles R. Mathews, M.D.
Dr. Mathews was a lifelong proponent of the study and practice of medicine, and an enthusiastic advocate of healthcare to needy populations. With his generous support for the Department of Geriatrics at the FSU College of Medicine, Dr. Mathews sought to promote special learning and studies in the field of geriatrics by encouraging medical students, regardless of their specialty choice, to provide the highest quality of care to older patients. In addition, he hoped that projects such as these would motivate some students to pursue a specific career in geriatrics.
After attending medical school at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Mathews served as a Flight Surgeon in the U.S. Air Force. He then practiced in Rochester, NY before setting up one of the first pulmonary specialty practices in Sarasota. Dr. Mathews served as Assistant Secretary for Health Services in the Florida Department of Corrections 1989-1998. In this role, he not only improved the quality of health care given to prisoners throughout the system, but also testified on numerous occasions in the Federal Courts on medical conditions in the Florida prisons. He was instrumental in beginning and working in a number of health projects in Sarasota and Tallahassee that target the underserved, including Neighborhood Health Services and We Care. Dr. Mathews was instrumental in arranging for dental services to the medically indigent through the We Care Program.
Dr. Mathews was always politically active. In the mid-1960s he led the AMA's opposition to the establishment of Medicare. However, when it passed in 1965, he was invited as a member of a select group of physicians to the White House by President L.B. Johnson to help implement the Medicare program. Although he had been opposed to the legislation, when asked to inform his colleagues within the American medical community, Dr. Mathews enthusiastically provided advice and technical assistance in the early phases of implementation.
More recently, Dr. Mathews was a member of a colalition to make universal health care a top issue of the 2008 presidential race. He was also active in the "Capital City Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program" and was quoted in a Florida Today article, saying that "convicted criminals are guaranteed access to medical care in prison, while millions of ordinary citizens have no coverage."
An avid cyclist, Dr. Mathews founded the Sarasota Bicycle Club and he also helped found the Capital City Cyclists here in Tallahassee, FL. He lived with his spouse, Fran Dwyer, RN, in Tallahassee, FL, where he died on May 23, 2011 at the age of 88.
"He was a dynamic physician always involved in public affairs, volunteer work and, as you might expect, risk taking. He rode his bike to our office almost every day despite the less than stellar reputation of our drivers. I had to patch him up on occasion. It is no surprise to me that he attended the first meeting on Medicare.”
Ken Brummel-Smith, M.D., Interviewer
Dr. Brummel-Smith is the head of the Department of Geriatrics, one of five academic departments in the FSU College of Medicine (COM). He also holds the COM Charlotte Edwards Maguire Professorship.
Prior to coming to the FSU College of Medicine as the founding chair of Geriatrics, Dr. Brummel-Smith was the medical director for the PACE Elderplace program in Portland, Oregon. He also served as Bain Chair of the Providence Center on Aging, as professor of family medicine at the Oregon Health Sciences University, and as division chief of geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. Later he served as section chief for geriatrics in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Southern California
Dr. Brummel-Smith is a past president of the American Geriatrics Society, as well as a member of the National Advisory Council on Aging at the National Institute on Aging, and chair of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. He has been selected by his peers 11 times as one of the Best Doctors in America.