While accepting her Outstanding Leadership award from the Massachusetts Health Council on Tuesday, Oct. 21, UMass Medical School’s Joyce A. Murphy, MPA, explained it was her experience teaching a 7-year-old boy to read while an undergraduate in Boston that started her down the path toward a career in health care.
“His clothes were tattered and dirty, his belly growling… It was noisy outside with sirens, police cars and much yelling. I thought, ‘How am I going to teach Derek to read?’ ” Murphy told the crowd at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. “It became clear to me on that very first day that socioeconomic factors have everything to do with health and well-being.”
Murphy, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, said Derek’s struggles are shared by many across Massachusetts. And Commonwealth Medicine is working hard, she said, to come up with solutions to those problems, from creating new ways of caring for high-risk populations and ensuring patient needs are at the center of all reform.
Murphy was one of four individuals and one wellness program applauded by the council for exemplifying its 94-year mission of promoting prevention and wellness. The council is a nonprofit committed to improving and protecting the health of Massachusetts citizens.
"Joyce is being honored for her steadfast resolve to increase access to health care for the underserved and high-risk populations," Massachusetts Hospital Association President and CEO Lynn Nicholas said before presenting Murphy with the award.
"Throughout her extraordinary career, Joyce has positively impacted the health of our communities, not only from her work with Commonwealth Medicine and UMass Medical School but as the founder of St. Mary's Center for Women and Children in Dorchester, offering innovative and family-centered programs for women and children who have experienced trauma and are living in poverty,” Nicholas said. “Thank you, Joyce, on behalf of all the members of the MA Health Council and the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for all you do to improve our health."
The other honorees included Timothy Johnson, MD, former ABC medical correspondent; Sally Sampson, founder and president, Chop Chop Magazine; Walter Willet, MD, DrPH, Harvard School of Public Health; and Lahey Health.
Before joining UMass Medical School in 2006, Murphy served as president and chief executive officer of Carney Hospital in Dorchester, founding president of St. Mary's Center for Women and Children, and vice president of St. Margaret’s Hospital for Women.
A graduate of UMass Boston, Murphy was the 2010 recipient of her alma mater’s Education for Service Award. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she received the Bradford Fellowship for Excellence in Public Service. Murphy received an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from Curry College.
She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including current service on the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission Advisory Council, the boards of Curry College and UHealthSolutions, the Leadership Council of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care board of directors as vice chairman.