Dr. Glen Barden: The work these hands have done


Last January, Polk County Medical Association member Dr. Glen Barden spent the month on a medical mission in Ethiopia, his third mission since 2008. He also spends one day each week at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, a clinic founded to help meet the medical needs of the working uninsured in Polk County. Dr. Barden serves as a consultant for an insurance carrier reviewing cases offering medical expertise. He is linked with the University of South Florida and is tangentially involved with presentations and participating in conferences. To many of us, this might sound like the days of a full-time physician, but for Dr. Barden, this is retirement.

Dr. Barden became involved with Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine during its inception 12 years ago, and more extensively as a physician five years ago. The clinic serves the uninsured by creating a compassionate and nurturing environment for patients, volunteers, and staff based on the philosophy that healing does not begin with a pill or a therapy. “It’s a wonderful program. It was designed to help the working uninsured, which might be a single person who doesn’t make enough money to pay for healthcare insurance, but who also isn’t eligible for public assistance,” explains Dr. Barden.

The clinic assists an average of 8000 patients each year, which equates to about 24,000 patient visits per year. Services are provided by volunteer physicians, including three orthopedists, a primary care physician, many specialists, and a dentist. An advanced nurse practitioner is on staff.

Dr. Barden is board-certified in orthopedic surgery and orthopedic surgery of the hand. He has special expertise in three areas, including hand surgery, knee surgery knee replacement arthroplasty, and orthopedic procedures. Dr. Barden attended Abraham Baldwin College, the University of Florida, and Emory University School of Medicine.

The U.S. Army and his time serving in the Vietnam War is what drew Dr. Barden to orthopedic medicine. The era was between 1966 and 1968. Dr. Barden had finished medical school and was considering areas of surgery and subspecialties. “I was drafted because of the Vietnam build up and assigned to orthopedic surgery. Following medical school, I was at the point of choosing a surgical specialty,” says Dr. Barden. “I followed the Army by attending Duke University where I finished my orthopedic residency and received formal hand training.”

When seeking a home base, Barden looked at Florida. It was a simple matter: both his and his wife’s parents lived in Monticello, a small city in North Florida. Dr. Barden was born in Wisconsin and his family relocated to Monticello after he graduated high school. Dr. Barden and his wife wanted to be near their families, so he took the Florida exam. He learned about Lakeland’s Watson Clinic reading a newsletter article written by founding member, Dr. Jere Annis. Because of Dr. Annis’s affiliation with the Florida Medical Association, Barden says he wrote Annis asking for his advice on where a new surgeon could find work. “Dr. Annis received my letter and said, ‘Why don’t you work here?’” recalls Dr. Barden. “So, I began with Watson Clinic in 1972 and never looked back.”

Dr. Barden was impressed by Watson Clinic because the level of care was similar to Duke Medical Center. He admired the high level of coordination of care between the specialties, and found the multi-specialty concept a good one.  In 1969, Watson Clinic had become the first clinic in the United States to be accredited by the American Association of Medical Clinics (AAMC). In 2005, they received a prestigious three-year accreditation from the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care, a feat they repeated in 2008. Their Orthopedic department is one of the most renowned in the area, treating a number of top shelf community sports teams, including the Detroit and Lakeland Flying Tigers baseball organization. Barden worked with Watson Clinic until his retirement in 2008. He served on the Watson Clinic Foundation Board for 20 years and served as a former chairman. He also served as managing partner/CEO of Watson Clinic LLC for 13 years.

After retiring, Dr. Barden joined the faculty at the University of Southern Florida. He taught hand surgery and saw patients from 2008 through 2011, although he continues supporting the university with various projects and conferences.

Dr. Barden has shared his life with Emmala, his wife of 51 years. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.


Dr. Barden Timeline

19?? – Medical degree

1962 – Married his wife, Emmala.

1966-1968 – Serving his country during the Vietnam War in the U.S. Army

1972 – Began with Watson Clinic

2008 – Retired

2008-Present – Active volunteer at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine

2013, January – Third mission to Etheopia



story by JO LYNN DEAL


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