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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Linda Farley, M.D.

Picture of Linda Farley
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Linda Farley, M.D.

“I love working in mixed cultures and bringing health care to people who really need it-the uninsured in inner cities and rural areas.”

NOMINATING CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Tammy Baldwin

“PASSIONATE CRUSADER FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM”

BIOGRAPHY

As a teenager, growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Rochester, NY, Linda Farley was a great reader and particularly admired several novels of the day that depicted heroic doctors at work in Appalachia. She decided that she too would become a doctor.

To realize her dream, she put herself through college by working for local employer Eastman Kodak and then worked as a nurse's aide to afford medical school, which is where she met her future husband, Gene, also a physician.

Together, the Farleys have dedicated their lives to caring for the needy and crusading for health care reform, especially for the poor and under-served in both town and country.

Farley, who was nominated to be a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2), began her medical career with a rotating internship at University of Colorado, Denver General Hospital, an inner-city facility serving mostly the poor and uninsured. Then it was on to serving a Navajo reservation, training nurses in Jamaica, back to practicing in rural upstate New York (including her home town, Rochester) and Denver, before arriving at her last stop, Madison, to teach, practice Family Medicine-and become a vocal, lifelong advocate for health care reform.

She credits her two years in the mid-1950s on the northeastern Arizona Navajo reservation as transforming her attitude and approach to medicine. Fifty miles from the nearest paved road, she and Gene lived in a small trailer and ran an outpatient clinic, providing medical care to the surrounding Navajo community, and also evaluating ambulatory treatment of tuberculosis using a then-new drug.

From the early days among the Navajos, the Farleys migrated to Trumansburg, NY, where they maintained a family medicine practice for seven years, serving patients mainly living in rural poverty. The family next moved to Rochester, where Linda practiced for eleven years in a neighborhood health center, then returned to Denver to practice at health clinics among the mostly indigent and uninsured.

Next-and last, it was on to the University of Wisconsin Medical School as an assistant professor of Family Medicine. In 1992, the year she was appointed emeritus assistant professor, she and Gene helped to establish a faculty development program in Family Medicine at Meharry Medical School. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Meharry is the country's largest private, comprehensive historically black institution for educating health professionals and scientists.

She received the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Task Force Appreciation Award in 1993, was recognized as the Wisconsin State Medical Society Physician Citizen of the Year in 1995, and received the American Academy of Family Physicians Presidents Award in 2001.

As a member of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Farley works for a national, single-payer health system. Also, she continues to volunteer in community health clinics and is a sought-after public speaker on health care reform. Summarizing her lifelong devotion to the medically underserved, Farley declares, "I'd like to be remembered as a good family doctor who really cared for people."

MILESTONES

1956

Family Medicine Practice, Navajo-Cornell Clinic, Many Farms Arizona

1978

Appointed Acting Medical Director, University of Colorado Family Practice Clinic

1982

Appointed Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

1992

Appointed Emeritus Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

BORN

1929

MEDICAL SCHOOL

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY

SPECIALTY

Family Medicine

LOCATION

Wisconsin