Community health advocate and “Champions of Change” White House award recipient, Ira F. Combs will deliver the annual keynote address to honor slain civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus on Monday, Jan. 20. As one of the city’s best attended events on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the event starts at noon, is free and open to the public. Comb’s speech, which is sponsored by UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center, will be in lower level of the Storz Pavilion in Clarkson Tower. Combs is the community liaison nurse coordinator for the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at the UNMC College of Public Health. He serves as a liaison with the African-American community developing relationships and facilitating health care services aimed primarily at screening and interventions for minority and the underserved populations. He developed the “Many-Mini Health Fair” and “Minority Focused Marketing” concept for UNMC. In September 2013 Combs was honored by the White House as a Public Health and Prevention Champion of Change, a person leading extraordinary efforts in prevention and public health that will have lasting effects on the health of Americans. Combs attended Grace Bible Institute for four years and later received a degree in child development from Iowa Western Community College. In 1988 he received an EMT paramedic certificate, and a bachelor of science degree in health care management. Combs underwent advance nurses training and received certification as a peritoneal dialysis nurse. He also is certified in chemotherapy administration/oncology nursing.
As founder and volunteer director of the all-volunteer health organization, Omahealth, Inc., which offers free health screenings and education programs, Combs coordinates operations; edits the monthly newsletter, NOAH (North Omaha Area Health); designs the web page; and produces the monthly cable health program, “Dr. Jesse & the Prevention Gang.” Since 2001, Combs has participated as a speaker for several medical organizations. He has received numerous community awards including: Citizen of the Year in 2003 by Omega Psi Phi and again in 2005; the Passion and Commitment Award from My Sister’s Keeper; and the Community Nurse of the Year Award in 2007 from the Omaha Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.
Combs titled his Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech, “King, Health Care and his Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Musical accompaniment will be provided by Omaha keyboardist Nate Asad and drummer Billy Foeman Quartey. Public parking is available in Lot 17, which can be accessed at 45th and Leavenworth streets. From there a shuttle will transport attendees to Clarkson Tower. The shuttles will run prior to the event from 11:30 a.m. to noon and after from 1 to 1:30 p.m.