Kidney Specialist Reaches Patients Through Creative Means

HADLEY/SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. Shirley Whitaker is a kidney specialist who delivers her messages on health over the radio airways, at church functions, at public fundraising events and even through her own artwork. Her mission is to help people understand that stress, obesity and high blood pressure are dangers that affect their bodies, their health and their lives.


Whitaker has a radio program on WTCC – operated by Springfield Technical Community College – and it airs every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. for 15 minutes in the middle of a gospel program called “Inspirational Beginning.” She uses her time on air to help educate the general public, and she’s created quite a following.


Whitaker’s segment of the show, called “Respect the Gift,” was originally intended to air for only 10 weeks, but Whitaker was so popular with listeners that she’s been broadcasting for three years now with no end in sight.


“I’m truly amazed at the reaction I’ve received. People are eager to hear what I have to say,” said Whitaker, who recently opened a new office in Hadley.


To spread her own health gospel, Whitaker also is a frequent speaker at community presentations. On June 9 at 2 p.m., for instance, she will take to the podium at a Delta Sigma Theta scholarship luncheon at Salvatore’s in Springfield with a topic of “Taking Charge of Your Health.”


Her goal in that effort is twofold: To support the local contingent of the national Delta Sigma Theta sorority and enhance public health. Tickets to that event, which support the sorority, cost $35. To order, call Gail Walls at 413-427-3933 or Gladys Lewis at 413-531-7391.


Whitaker also uses her own artwork to get her health messages out. Recently, she made 200 cardboard fans that feature an oil painting she created in 1990 on one side of two ladies on their way to church, and on the back side, these simple, provocative questions: “Is your blood pressure less than 140 over 90? If not, why not?”


Whitaker offered the fans up on her radio show, and the next day, all 200 were spoken for. “People loved them,” she said, noting that fans are a popular way of advertising in the Black community. “People came into the station and picked them up. I did not have one fan left.”


Whitaker earned her medical degree from Emory University in 1979 and completed her residency at Eastern Virginia Medical Center in Norfolk, Va., and at the University of California, Davis.


She completed a fellowship in nephrology at the University of California, Davis, and also studied for a year at Oregon Science University in Portland. She also holds a master’s in public health from Yale University, which compliments her love for community health.


Whitaker specializes in treating diseases of the kidneys, and because systemic conditions that affect the kidneys include diabetes and hypertension, she also has a special interest in weight management and regulating blood pressure.


Her offices are at 100 Wason Ave., Springfield, Suite 200, and 220 Russell St., Hadley, Suite 400. She moved to the Hadley office in February from an Amherst office and has had a practice in Springfield since 2006.


To make an appointment, to invite her to speak or for more information, call 413-733-9666.


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Dr. Shirley Whitaker

Dr. Shirley Whitaker