NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On Friday, Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) unveiled a statue in honor of a long-time surgeon from Suffolk.
Dr. L.D. Britt is a Suffolk native who joined the EVMS faculty in 1986 after earning his medical degree and a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard. Today, he is the Edward J. Brickhouse Chair in Surgery and has served as Chair of EVMS Surgery since 1994.
In addition, he has been the Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs since 2021.
“Dr. Britt has devoted his entire professional life to addressing healthcare disparities, mentoring and serving others and delivering unparalleled patient care,” said Dr. Alfred Abuhamad, Interim EVMS President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine. “Our hope is that each person who passes the statue will not only appreciate the work of this talented artist but understand the magnitude of Dr. Britt’s lifelong dedication to healthcare, research and education.”
The 9-foot statue unveiled on Friday was created by world-renowned artist Mario Chiodo. The statue is located on the lawn of Waitzer Hall.
“When people walk by, I hope they think about perseverance and excellence — the fact that
you have an obligation to make your society better,” Dr. Britt said.
The figure of Britt shows him standing in the middle of railroad tracks that hint at his beginnings in a once
segregated community. Behind him is a towering stack of books in the form of the DNA double helix signifying his success in medicine.
For 25 years, Britt was known for traveling to Suffolk to see patients who could not make the trip to Norfolk.
“As a young man, I looked around my community, the segregated Jim Crow South, and I saw real struggles,” Dr. Britt says. “If my family members had to go to the doctor, they packed a lunch because getting to that appointment, being seen by a doctor, getting home — it would take hours. I knew something was wrong. The issue of healthcare disparities was our biggest challenge. It’s what drew me into medicine.”
He was the first EVMS physician to be named to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine and the first Black surgeon to receive the ACS’ Lifetime Achievement award.
That award has only been given to four other surgeons in the past century.
Britt is the author of more than 220 peer-reviewed publications, more than 50 book chapters and non-peer-reviewed articles and three books.
He has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to address healthcare disparities and is the recipient of the nation’s highest teaching award in medicine.
“My greatest honor is taking care of patients,” Dr. Britt says. “There’s nothing better than getting patients the surgical and medical interventions they need. A close second to that, for me, is teaching.”
Britt received his undergrad degree at the University of Virginia.