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A call to heal, a call to serve

Alumnus gives back through mentoring and more

January 2014

by Tina Luther

James L. “Larry” Holly, M.D. and Summer Scavone
Dr. Holly congratulates Summer Scavone on her completion of the patient-centered medical home externship he developed.
Implementing an externship was a longtime dream of James L. "Larry" Holly, M.D., Class of 1973. This past summer, his vision of educating students and serving on the faculty came to fruition when Summer Scavone, a fourth-year medical student, entered his practice, South East Texas Medical Associates (SETMA), to embark on a four-week patient-centered medical home externship. "My experience with Dr. Holly, in one word, was inspiring," said Scavone. "This rotation helped me see the difference between technician and healer - two things that any physician can be. The environment that Dr. Holly and his colleagues have built is one that I would like to work in and emulate in my future."

Dr. Holly’s path to becoming the exemplary physician he is today and the extraordinary journey which led him there began many years ago with his initial calling as a physician. While in graduate school, he and his wife, Carolyn, knew his vocation was one of service. Initially, he considered becoming a minister, but after careful discernment, "I saw a mission and ministry in being a physician," he said. "Both vocations help meet the desperate needs of people."

Upon attending the Health Science Center, he fell in love with biochemistry and physiology. "It was new and exciting," he said, comparing it to his undergraduate background in history and philosophy. "There was no part that I didn’t like." In addition to being active in several student organizations on campus, he served on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) executive committee as its first student member, where he voted on the Health Science Center’s medical school accreditation. Among his mentors, he credits Marvin S. Forland, M.D., former associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Medicine; Elliot Weser, M.D., emeritus professor of medicine; and F. Carter Pannill, M.D., former dean of the School of Medicine. Their guidance inspired him to become a mentor and later establish the externship at SETMA where he would in turn become a mentor to future physicians.

After graduation, Dr. Holly completed his internship in internal medicine. Following 20 years in private practice in Beaumont, in 1995, he established a multispecialty group practice in Beaumont where he now serves as its CEO. In 2010, Southeast Texas Medical Associates became a patient-centered medical home. Among his many innovative approaches to patient care, Dr. Holly pioneered electronic medical records and electronic patient management. He is a recognized national leader in health care informatics. SETMA has been recognized with many honors, including the Ambulatory Care Davies Award of Excellence and as an affiliate of the Joslin Diabetes Center affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Within the past 18 years, SETMA has grown to five locations with care in family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, ophthalmology, cardiology, neurology and endocrinology. Further expansion is planned. Dr. Holly serves on the National Quality Forum Endocrine Steering Committee and on the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Innovation Standing Committee.

"Working in a patient-centered medical home is where community and population medicine is best practiced, and it was a privilege to see all of this firsthand," Scavone said. "I know that the model of patient-centered medical home is about collaboration and cooperation among health care teams and patients. My experience here is helping me decide which residency programs I want to pursue."

Driven by his personal motto, which is inspired by the Bible, Romans 13:8 - "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law" - Dr. Holly and his partners created the SETMA Foundation to fund care for patients who cannot afford medical care and other necessities.

Dr. Holly said his heart never left the Health Science Center, where he served as president of the School of Medicine alumni association from 2006 to 2010. In honor of his outstanding service, he was recognized with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Medicine. He was named adjunct professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and is regularly seen on the Long campus giving lectures and participating in alumni activities.

"The quality of a school is determined by the quality of the alumni who give back to it," he said. "The Health Science Center is an exemplary place and through our support we say to our community, ‘This is the place where we want to invest our resources.’"

Scavone concurs. "One of the most important lessons that I learned from Dr. Holly and this rotation is that you are never too old to create change in other peoples’ lives," she said. "As a future family physician, I look forward to practicing medicine holistically alongside my patients. The patient-centered medical home rotation has been a stepping stone in the right direction."

The Dr. and Mrs. James L. Holly legacy at the Health Science Center includes the following endowments:
  • Dr. & Mrs. Holly Distinguished Professorship in Patient-Centered Medical Home
  • School of Medicine Class of 1973 Endowed Scholarship
  • School of Medicine Class of 2010 Endowed Scholarship
  • Wirt E. Bellue, Sr., & William Richmond Holly, Sr., Distinguished Lectureship in Patient-Centered Medical Home
  • Dr. Daniel G. Duke Memorial Endowment for Music and Medicine
  • Initial funding for the Primary Care Institute


In 2011, one of Dr. Holly’s longtime patients, Wayne A. Reaud, chairman and founder of the Beaumont Foundation of America, donated $1 million to update the Health Science Center auditorium, which is now named in honor of Dr. Holly and his wife Carolyn.

For more information
Click to view The extensive Patient-CenteredMedical Home Externship Syllabus, written by Dr. Holly.

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Updated 7/30/14