Desmond Hayes, MD, an early faculty member who helped lay the foundations for EVMS’ geriatrics education programs, died Jan. 18, 2019.
Dr. Hayes, a beloved teacher, clinician and mentor, left a lasting impact on the institution and on the generations of students, residents and faculty colleagues with whom he interacted. One former resident said of him: “His gentle wisdom was like a warm blanket to a frightened intern.”
The Irish-born physician retired from EVMS as a Professor Emeritus of Family and Community Medicine. During his 25-year tenure with the school he served as founding director of the Ghent Family Medicine Residency Program and was Director of Geriatrics in Family and Community Medicine. His work helped lead to the establishment of the EVMS Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, a center dedicated to geriatric education and care. Dr. Hayes continued his interactions with students and residents as a volunteer long after his retirement.
“Dr. Hayes was a very special physician — dedicated to the health of older adults, a leader in the creation of geriatrics training of medical students at EVMS, and an ardent believer in the training of all learners in the care of older people,” said Robert Palmer, MD, the John Franklin Chair in Geriatrics, Director of the Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology and Professor and Interim Chair of Internal Medicine.
“Even more remarkable was his positive attitude about his own aging, being able to overcome severe, sometimes critical, health issues as they arose in the span of his life,” Dr. Palmer said. “Ever a kind, gentle and humane person, Dr. Hayes was a wonderful role model for all those he taught, with wisdom and humility.”
Dr. Hayes demonstrated his interest in the care of older adults when he returned to school to complete a fellowship in geriatrics in 1988 and became one of the first physicians in the region to become certified in geriatric medicine. Working alongside geriatrics pioneer John Franklin, MD, he used that knowledge to help create a geriatric clerkship for fourth-year medical students. It was one of the first of its kind in the country.
Dr. Hayes received the Dean’s Faculty Achievement Award in institutional service in 1999 in recognition of his contributions to the institution. In a letter of support for that award, one faculty member wrote of the impact Dr. Hayes had on his practice.
“I am grateful to him for the interest he took in me during my residency, which spurred me to continuously strive to be a kinder, smarter, more reliable doctor to my patients, and a more challenging, focused, patient and approachable teacher to those I teach,” he wrote. “As the world moves ever forward, I continue to find my way of looking back to the old-fashioned values embodies in my teacher and colleague, Dr. Desmond Hayes.”