An Interview With Dr. Gary Wiltz


An Interview With Dr. Gary Wiltz




Medicine in New Orleans


This is an interview with Dr. Gary Wiltz, a New Orleans native, Tulane University School of Medicine graduate, and award-winning physician who is the Chief Executive Officer of Teche Action Clinic.


Anthony Thompson


My Nola, My Story via Youtube


Mass Communication department at Xavier University of Louisiana


4th February 2021


Anthony Thompson


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2021




Premiere Pro, video


A Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana's Mass Communication department students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format


Intro (music): (Anthony Thompson) Good evening Dr. Wiltz and thank you for being part of the Black History Month Black in Medicine Series. My first question for you is: What made you go into medicine?

Dr. Gary Wiltz: Well thank you Anthony, and it’s a pleasure to be with you. That’s a question that I think most people who go into medicine get asked. Particularly if you're pre-med, they ask you: Why do you want to become a doctor? I guess in my case, I grew up in New Orleans. I was born at Charity Hospital, the old Charity we call big Charity Hospital, on the colored ward section because it was segregated back in 1953 when I was born. Having grown up, I grew up in the 7th ward. I went to public schools in New Orleans and just having the experience of seeing how healthcare was being delivered in more of a tiered system, I knew I always wanted to do something to help people, and as I'm sure you’ll find if you’re pre-med, medicine is a calling. It's almost a religious sort of experience where you are called. The old biblical saying, many are called but few are chosen, is true in medicine too. I just found that it was a tremendous venue. I got a lot of encouragement. I was good in sciences in school, and had a lot of encouragement from my teachers in high school, and then I guess the big turning point for me influence-wise, was when I got to Tulane undergrad and was pre-med. I got involved in a program called MED REP, the Medical Education and Reinforcement Enrichment Program, and it was headed up by Dr. Anna Cherrie Epps, and we actually had some conjunction with Xavier University, where they actually allowed us to have a summer enrichment where we did research at the medical school, prepped for the MCAT, and actually were guaranteed an interview. Because of that intervention, I would not have had the career that I’ve had in medicine. So I guess to answer your question, it was calling. I view medicine as a sacred trust, one of the most intimate forms of human contact you can have, and I wanted to do something to serve the community, particularly the community that I was born in, grew up in, and wanted to give back to.

Anthony: Thank you for that very informative answer. My next question for you is: What are the challenges of your role as a physician?

Dr. Wiltz: That's a loaded question. As you know, I’m CEO of an FQHC, which is a Federally Qualified Health Center. The more common name is a community health center. Just a little background about that, community healthcare centers have been in existence since 1965. They were part of the great war on poverty that president Lyndon Johnson and that congress initiated. A lot of great things came out of that movement in 1965. It began the Medicare program, the Medicaid program, the Community Action Head Start program, and community health centers. A lot of it was based on what we now come to appreciate as social determinants of health and we knew that you had to address those underlying issues, and because of those issues, it affected people's health. That is what I've kind of dedicated my life to. I had the good fortune when I was in medical school at Tulane to be awarded a National Service Corps Scholarship. That scholarship paid for my medical school. In return, I had to pay back time at what was called an underserved area. So like a lot of my colleagues, I grew up in New Orleans in an urban setting, and did not have a full appreciation for what rural communities were lacking. Charity Hospital was great if you were in the city and you had access to that care. But if you lived 100 miles away and had to take a Greyhound bus, travel 3, 4 hours to go to Charity Hospital for primary care and things that should have been delivered in the local setting, that I realized right away was a big challenge: increasing access, and of course having culturally competent people to deliver that care. I always said that a lot of the problems that we have particularly in the African American community, I've heard it said and I agree: No one can help save us from us but us. So I think empowering our communities with the tools and the things that we need to improve our health is a big part of the equation to help get us to a better place.

Anthony: My final question for you is: What do you want communities of color to know about COVID-19 and the science surrounding it?

Dr. Wiltz: Well I think to just reiterate that the science was based on real science. I have, this is the mask that I wear. It says, I trust the science, and I wear that intentionally with all my patients and when I'm speaking publicly before I take it off. So I want our communities to know that the science is there, there is a commitment from the president, President Biden, from Governor Edwards, that we have prioritized. He's created an Equity Task Force and we have prioritized African American communities should be at the front of the line to get the vaccines because it’s devastated our communities, and the worst thing we can do as a people is not take advantage of the vaccines. That's one of the biggest ways we’re going to get out of this situation.

Anthony: Dr. Wiltz thank you very much for those informative answers and I again thank you for being a part of the Black in Medicine Series.

Dr. Wiltz: You’re quite welcome Anthony.


6:10 (6 minutes 10 seconds)


Anthony Thompson


Anthony Thompson


Date Added
February 24, 2021
Nola Justice
Item Type
Moving Image
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Anthony Thompson , “An Interview With Dr. Gary Wiltz,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed September 24, 2023,