Trauma surgeon Ashley Williams Hogue, M.D., is passionate about making a positive difference. She aims to address health disparities, improve access to care, and empower others to make decisions about their health.
By Michelle Ryan
To know Ashley Williams Hogue, M.D., a trauma surgeon at USA Health University Hospital, is to know she is driven to make a difference in the community. Now the co-founder of Project INSPIRE, a gun violence prevention program, has another leadership role through which to make a local impact.
Williams Hogue was recently named director of the Center for Healthy Communities, an arm of the University of South Alabama tasked with addressing health disparities, improving access to healthcare for underserved populations, and empowering individuals to make decisions about their health.
The opportunity to take the lead in making more critical changes in the community is what interested her in the position.
“In my opinion, the Center for Healthy Communities is the University of South Alabama’s gateway into the community we serve. It offers the establishment of an ongoing partnership between medicine, research, and the community,” said Williams Hogue, also an assistant professor of surgery at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine. “One cannot exist, and certainly not succeed, without the others. I understand the value in this partnership and want to be a part of the team leading this effort.”
Williams Hogue has been outspoken in her efforts to curb gun violence and improve community wellness, both of which make her an ideal fit for the role.
“In just a few years, Dr. Williams Hogue has already established herself as a true changemaker within our academic health system and the community," said John V. Marymont, M.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Whiddon College of Medicine. "It will be exciting to see how she builds upon the mission and impact of the center.”
Part of that mission is to put research into action where it’s needed. Already, the center has organized vaccination clinics, educational events, farmers markets and more in underserved communities to help address disparities and improve access to care.
“An advocate for those she serves, Dr. Williams Hogue has shown she has the passion and drive to make our community healthier for everyone who lives here,” said Owen Bailey, M.S.H.A., FACHE, USA Health chief executive officer and senior associate vice president for medical affairs. “In her new role, she’ll have more access to the resources of the university and our academic health system, factors that should give her the tools necessary to open more doors for our patients and their families.”
The Future Trauma Leader, so named by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, already has her sights set on goals she wants to achieve in her new position.
“It is extremely important for medicine and research to bring forth evidence-informed interventions and preventive strategies that can be immediately deployed into the community to alleviate many of the health burdens that exist,” Williams Hogue said. “Our communities struggle with advanced disease, systemic barriers, and social determinants that negatively impact our ability to thrive.”
In 2002, USA established the Center for Healthy Communities to use its academic and healthcare resources to help address some of the region’s most pressing health concerns, most notably health disparities among African American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian communities.
Additionally, the state struggles with a high prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes, according to the America’s Health Rankings 2022 Annual Report [PDF], which makes access to care and education a priority for the community to thrive.
Various studies credit community participation with improved health incomes and positive health impact.
“The Mobile area is poised for the task at hand. We have an academic health system that has the resources and capacity to couple quality medical care and research,” Williams Hogue said. “Partnering with community stakeholders will allow the efficient delivery of resources and programs that serve the overall health needs of the public.”
She is married to Antwan Hogue, M.D., a senior hospitalist at USA Health and collaborating physician with the Johnson Haynes, Jr., M.D., Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center. The couple has three children.