A Tribute to Dr. Gil Buchanan
Children with special health care needs and the maternal and child health community lost one of our leading advocates, Dr. Gil Buchanan, who died on December 6, 2008, in Little Rock, Ark., at age 74. A pediatrician, he served as Medical Director for Children’s Medical Services, the Title V agency for CSHCN, in the Arkansas Department of Human Services, from 1979 until he retired in 2005. While serving in this capacity, he also maintained a private practice and was a partner in the Arkansas Pediatric Clinic.
Gil was well known to AMCHP members and staff. He served as Region VI Councilor for many years, co-chaired the Children with Special Health Care Needs Committee and served on the Health Care Financing Committee. Gil joined AMCHP officers in personally greeting Hillary Rodham Clinton when the First Lady gave the keynote address at the 1998 AMCHP annual meeting. He was tireless in his work on AMCHP’s Board and frequently represented the association at national meetings, notably the MCH-Medicaid Technical Advisory Group, which enhanced the relationship and understanding between state Title V directors and state Medicaid directors. He provided advice to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on various subjects affecting the lives of children with special health care needs. Gil also served as Core Faculty for 15 years to the Children with Special Health Care Needs Continuing Education Training Institute in Columbus, Ohio, a project funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The Institute helped prepare a new generation of leaders in state CSHCN programs from throughout the nation.
Dr. Buchanan always made time to take a call from AMCHP, fellow state Title V directors, or families. As Cathy Hess, former AMCHP Executive Director recalls, “Gil was a very sweet, committed doctor and policy advocate. He put a lot of time and energy into the AMCHP board, his regional responsibilities, the MCH Medicaid TAG, and many other national activities with us as well as AAP.” Gil will be remembered for his professionalism and advocacy on behalf of children with special health care needs and their families, but on a more personal level for his love of crossword puzzles, travel and antique collecting.
Phyllis Sloyer, President-elect of AMCHP, recalls Gil’s passion about assuring that children received medically necessary services, the importance of EPSDT, and his desire to make sure families were first in the health care equation. An AMCHP meeting wasn’t the same without Gil’s presence.
Gil was also active with the American Academy of Pediatrics and served as President of the Arkansas Chapter, served on the Bright Futures Guideline Review Committee, Child Health Finance Committee and others. He was also active with Easter Seals Arkansas, twice served on the Board of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and in 1996 received the Child Advocacy Volunteer Award from Voices for America’s Children.
Dr. Buchanan is survived by his wife Helen, daughter Dr. Kate Mitchell and her husband Justin, and son Clay Buchanan, and seven grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Family, Union Station, Suite 306, 1400 W. Markham, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 or to Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church Foundation, 4823 Woodlawn, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205. Condolences may be sent to his family at: 24 Saint Johns Place, Little Rock, Arkansas 72207.