Black History Month spotlights Humanitarian Award winner Dr. Leo K. EdwardsFeb 9, 2023
Born in 1950 at Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Edwards now cares for his neighborhood in more ways than one
(San Antonio, TX) -- San Antonio-born Leo Edwards, M.D., internal medicine physician and recipient of Baptist Health System’s Humanitarian Award said a nurse at one of Baptist’s hospitals where he was born decades ago, was among those who helped fuel his passion for caring for others. Dr. Edwards was just an infant when he almost died. In 1950, just four years before the Civil Rights Movement, segregated health care forced his mom, Maddie Edwards, a Black woman, who was pregnant with Leo Edwards Jr., to see her ob-gyn for care after regular business hours. But the day she went into labor on April 24, 1950, she rushed to Baptist Medical Center downtown, one of the only hospitals in San Antonio nearby at that time. Her labor was difficult and when Edwards was born, he wasn’t breathing. A nurse there didn’t hesitate to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and was able to restore his breathing and his life.
His parents’ perseverance, the outstanding care he and his mother received at Baptist Medical Center and the nurse who saved him, inspired Dr. Edwards to become a physician and to return to San Antonio to help care for others. He worked tirelessly and followed his dream. After graduating from medical school in 1978 and completing his residency, Dr. Edwards returned to the neighborhood where he grew up on San Antonio’s east side to set up his practice and to “connect with and listen to his community, and help take care of them,” he said. Not only does he take care of their physical well-being, Dr. Edwards takes care of their spiritual and mental well-being as well. Baptist Health System selected Dr. Edwards for the Humanitarian Award because of his deep desire to help others that goes above and beyond his calling as a physician.
Dr. Edwards is an unassuming gentleman, and if it weren’t for the letters M.D. behind his name, one may not realize he’s a distinguished physician and Baptist Health System’s 2022 Humanitarian Award recipient. At his East side neighborhood clinic, Dr. Edwards opts for a comfortable hoodie, blue jeans and tennis shoes instead of a white coat as he visits with his patients. No act of kindness is too big or too small for Dr. Edwards, including getting a cab for a patient with no way home, or helping patients overcome obstacles in obtaining their prescription medications. He even donated one of his kidneys to his sister who was suffering from irreversible kidney disease.
The walls of Dr. Edwards’ clinic are lined with colorful, framed artworks he collects and proudly displays. All are handmade by local community members, friends, patients and family members.
During the little free time he has, Dr. Edwards spends much of it at his parish, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, a Catholic Church for African Americans on the East side, Dr. Edwards gives back by volunteering as the church’s videographer to record services for those who are unable to attend services in person. As the parishes’ volunteer photographer, Dr. Edwards uses his talents to create a Church Calendar each year featuring parishioners and parish activities that he sells with all proceeds benefiting the parish.
In addition, he photographed, wrote and published a two-volume book set that chronicled life in his neighborhood during the COVID pandemic. Having contracted COVID virus in 2021 prior to the availability of any vaccines, Dr. Edwards said he felt compelled to capture what was happening in his community so his neighbors, friends, patients and church companions would have a record and history to help them remember the events at that time. Proceeds from the book sales go to his church.
“Our church was founded in 1901 and we had no record of what our members experienced during the time of the Spanish flu,” Dr. Edwards said. “I felt that our community needed something they could go back to and share with their loved ones about what happened when COVID impacted our city during this unprecedented time in history,” he said. So, during his free time, he and his wife began their labor of love together, compiling data, photos and accounts for the books, which took two years to complete.
In addition to all he does for his patients and his church, this year as every year, Dr. Edwards proudly walked in the “Together We Can Be THE Dream” MLK March 2023 along with his Baptist Health System colleagues and the San Antonio community. Dr. Edwards has participated in the MLK March since its inception 35 years ago to help keep Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream alive. And, as usual, he carried his camera in hand recording the events for future generations to enjoy. Dr. Edwards is a shining example of a compassionate caregiver and leader of Baptist Health System’s “Community Built on Care.” During Black History Month and every day, Baptist Health System congratulates Dr. Edwards on his living legacy and contributions as an outstanding caregiver and community advocate.