Remembering George Dunigan
Former OOA Government Relations Director Served the Profession for 30 Years
GEORGE F. DUNIGAN II
November 6, 1946 - September 11, 2023
His contributions were immense, his legacy is long-lasting, and he will surely be missed.
At the Ohio Statehouse he was synonymous with the word osteopathic. For more than 30 years he advocated for the profession and osteopathic medical education as Government Relations Director for the Ohio Osteopathic Association and Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. In fact, he was instrumental in securing the legislation that established OU-HCOM.
He considered passage of the legislation, HB 229, his greatest accomplishment not only because of its impact on the profession, but because of its impact on health care throughout Ohio.
On August 18, 1975, Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes signed HB 229. The bill, introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives in January that year, created an osteopathic college that would emphasize the training of family physicians for underserved areas of the state. It was later amended to specify the osteopathic school would be a “component part” of Ohio University.
With powerful support from a handful of key legislators, the bill passed the House overwhelmingly two months after its introduction. It was a different story in the Senate. It was a tough battle, particularly with opposition from the Ohio Board of Regents, Ohio State Medical Association, and others. But Dunigan and the team of proponents pressed on, enlisting Sen. Nick Zimmers to carry the bill and working with Sen. Harry Meshel and others to show legislators the value the osteopathic medical school—and the primary care physicians it would produce—would bring to their districts. During the 2-1/2-hour debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Bob Secrest, of Cambridge, delivered a rousing speech in support of the bill, noting that if just two doctors moved into his district, it would be worth it. The bill passed 24-6.
Today, over 1,000 students are enrolled at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s three campuses in Athens, Dublin, and Cleveland. The College alumni totals 4,500+, with 53% of graduates practicing primary care and 60% practicing in Ohio.