February is Black History Month, and two black women in leadership positions at Tenet Health Central Coast are especially proud of their black heritage. KSBY’s Neil Hebert sat down with doctors Tamara Battle and Aiga Charles to talk about how they hope to continue paving the way for others in healthcare.
“It’s about heritage and remembering those who came before; the struggles they had that I didn’t have to go through. I rarely have felt that the color of my skin has dictated my path within the Tenet organization,” said Dr. Tamara Battle, a managing partner of Central Coast Pediatrics and the Governing Board Chair of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.
“From how black people were brought to this country to struggles that black people have endured in this country, in this month, we take the time to honor that, to make it relevant, and to never forget it,” said Dr. Aiga Charles, an OBGYN and the Chief of Staff for Twin Cities Hospital.
Dr. Battle says the biggest champions in accomplishing her goals were her parents, Constance and MSGT Arthur Battle.
“We were passionate about reading and striving for excellence in education. The hard work and the sacrifices that they made are part of the physician that I am today,” said Dr. Battle.
Dr. Charles, an OBGYN and the Chief of Staff for Twin Cities Hospital, isn’t the first Dr. Charles in her family; her dad is a pediatrician and one of her most influential mentors. The father-daughter doctor duo has seen some of the same patients throughout their time on the Central Coast.
“He also started seeing patients that I delivered,” said Dr. Aiga Charles. “That touched both of us, him especially when he walks into a room, the mom of the baby is like, ‘Wait a second. There was a Dr. Charles that delivered this baby. I don’t understand.’ His response to that is, ‘Well, that’s my daughter.’”
Dr. Battle says having the opportunity to have her voice heard within the community of medicine allows for progressive change.
“I’m mindful that 2% of American doctors look like myself,” said Dr. Battle. “I think it’s important to sit at the table and be a part of decision making. I think that’s how sustainable change can happen. Listening to different viewpoints and bringing in a different perspective can make it a much more diverse opportunity for others.”
“They feel as though there are too many obstacles to overcome or there’s too many challenges or they’re already going to be counted out just because of the color of their skin. For them to see that there’s somebody out there that looks like them that is a doctor is huge,” said Dr. Charles.