One of Hattiesburg’s most prominent physicians has been named chair of the board for the Mississippi State Board of Health, which promotes health throughout the state by advancing health protection and planning.
Thad Waites, a physician with Hattiesburg Clinic’s Heart and Vascular department, was elected by his colleagues to the position in late September.
“I’m excited about it; I’m very pleased,” Waites said. “One thing I like about the health board is that it involves the entire state. My whole career has been taking care of patients, and that’s always been one place at a time, but every time we go to the meeting of the health department, we’re really dealing with the health of the entire state.
“That’s an awesome responsibility, but also one that I’m excited to be a part of. We try to do a good job, and (State Health Officer) Dr. Thomas Dobbs from Laurel is such a great person to work with. We have a good time trying to figure out how to take care of the entire state, including wastewater and things you wouldn’t believe the health department has to take care of, but it’s all under our control.”
Waites was first appointed to the Mississippi State Board of Health in 2010 and most recently has served as vice chair of the board.
He is currently serving as co-director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Forrest General Hospital.
The board is tasked with managing issues regarding the state health department, principally hiring medical officers as well as hiring the auditor of the department.
“Beyond that, we’re in control of regulations; all new regulations have to come before the board for votes,” Waites said. “We have a pretty large packet of items that have to be voted on every time we meet together. The most awesome responsibility we have, though, is making sure that we have somebody like Dr. Thomas Dobbs running the department of health.”
Waites began his medical education at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson and underwent his internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
He served a residency at the University of Colorado in Denver, was chief resident at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and completed his fellowship at Emory University.
He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Cardiovascular Disease.
In addition to the Mississippi State Board of Health, Waits has affiliations with the American College of Cardiology, the Society of Cardiac Angiography, the Southeastern Affiliate of the American Heart Association, the South Mississippi Medical Society, the Mississippi State Medical Association and the American Medical Association.
In his new position, Waites will focus on the continuing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He meets with Dobbs via phone at least once a week to ensure the health department has the tools it needs for that battle.
“Then the other issue is, we have in the election coming up on Nov. 3 the ballot for Initiative 65 (to legalize medical marijuana in the state), and we are very much opposed to that,” Waites said. “The board is very much against Initiative 65 … and the Mississippi State Medical Association and the American Medical Association came out against Initiative 65.”
The groups oppose the measure partly because it would require the state Health Department to take on extra responsibility, including the distribution of a substance that is currently illegal under federal law.
The initiative will be decided during the Nov. 3 general election.