Jackson, MS -(WLBT)- When they began their medical careers African American doctors were not allowed to work in Mississippi hospitals. Tonight the first two African American cardiologists in the state celebrated 30 years of caring for patients.
Dr. Malcolm P. Taylor and his partner Dr. Tellis B. Ellis, III have had their practice at St. Dominic since 1990. Friday night, they were recognized for their service in battling cardiovascular disease. They are the first and have been the only African American private cardiology practice in Mississippi for 30 years. Dr. Ellis says their doors were always open.
"We never refused anyone. It didn't matter about their socio-economics, race, creed, status. We were open and we always extended a hand to them," said Dr. Ellis.
Dr. Taylor reflected on his career.
"Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for African Americans and for us to be able to come back home and make a difference in the lives of our patients has really been a blessing," said Dr. Taylor.
At 15 Taylor and a friend helped integrate the Woolworth store in Vicksburg refusing to leave the counter without being served ice cream. Taylor graduated from Tougaloo College and returned to Jackson in 1978 after finishing medical school at Tufts University in Boston. At an interview at University Medical Center he met another young cardiologist, Dr. Tellis B. Ellis, whose father was the first football coach at Jackson State. He got his degree at JSU and completed medical school at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Ellis says his job is to help patients get better.
"A patient comes in, in trouble, and to be able to direct them and provide that care, that support and then recognize what's wrong, then they begin to take an active role, that's my greatest reward," added Dr. Ellis.
Dr. Taylor says there are great role models for today's students.
"When I was growing up, that I saw doctors in my community, African American doctors in my community, and I saw what a hard time they had. They couldn't practice in hospitals, they had to do a lot of their work in their offices and they, yet they persevered like Dr. Aaron Shirley," added Dr. Taylor.
Today there are five cardiologists in their practice. All are native Mississippians.
Dr. Ellis was drafted by the Green Bay Packers before an injury sidelined his football career. He decided to become a doctor instead.