Breaking Ground 94 - Remembering Dr. Thomas Cheetham
The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities mourns the loss of Dr. Thomas Cheetham, Deputy Commissioner of Health Services for the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, who passed away in August 2018 at the age of 73.
Dr. Cheetham dedicated his life to serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and was a tireless advocate for improving healthcare for individuals with disabilities. His contributions to this field not only benefited people in Tennessee, but also people around the world through his work on Health Care for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Toolkit for Primary Care Providers (“IDD Toolkit”)*. In 2017, he was awarded the inaugural Surgeon General’s Spirit Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service by the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry.
“Dr. Cheetham was a leader and critical partner in the Council’s efforts to improve access to quality healthcare for Tennesseans with developmental disabilities,” said Wanda Willis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Tom’s expertise about health disparities and barriers facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in accessing appropriate primary care was invaluable. He will be deeply missed, not only in by those who worked with him here in Tennessee but throughout the U.S.”
*Explore the IDD Toolkit: https://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/etoolkit/. The Developmental Disabilities Health Care E-Toolkit is a project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, the University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities and the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and is funded by the WITH (Working for Inclusive and Transformative Healthcare) Foundation, formerly the Special Hope Foundation. Dr. Cheetham was a primary contributor to this toolkit and member of its Advisory Committee.