Published on: March 9, 2006
New Orleans Pathologist to Receive “Distinguished Patient Care Award”
From the College of American Pathologists
Humanitarian service after Hurricaone Katrina commended
NORTHFIELD, ILL. – In special recognition for his extraordinary care to patients in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, the College of American Pathologists announces it will award Gregory S. Henderson, MD, PhD, FCAP its first-ever “Distinguished Patient Care Award.” The award will be presented in San Diego in September at CAP’06, the College’s annual meeting.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Henderson, a pathologist at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, helped set up a clinic in the bar at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and then at the Sheraton Hotel when the Ritz was evacuated, in an effort to provide critical medical services to patients who could not be rescued due to rising flood waters. Henderson sent an urgent request via e-mail from his hotel room shortly after the storm hit seeking supplies and assistance for patients, while tending to patients at the New Orleans’ Convention Center for several days. He was the only doctor on the scene during the initial period of the crisis.
“Dr. Henderson’s quick thinking and commitment to helping patients during this particularly devastating time was exemplary,” said Thomas M. Sodeman, MD, FCAP, President of the College of American Pathologists. “This newly-created award recognizes this outstanding humanitarian service.”
“This is a deeply moving honor,” said Dr. Henderson. “Having been ‘on the ground’ during the entire Katrina crisis and aftermath, and having witnessed such amazing acts of courage and heroism from so many people, I am honored to be ‘singled out,’ but I am merely one of many, many people.”
According to Dr. Henderson, when the flooding started in New Orleans, at the Ritz-Carlton, “an overhead announcement directed anyone who needed medical care to the bar. I knew we were in for a medical crisis and that leaving was out of the question: real soldiers don't run from fighting, and real doctors don't run from sick people. I let them know that I was willing to help in any way I could.”
“I’ve never witnessed anything in the United States to which I could compare the scene outside the New Orleans Convention Center….(but) we found that a physician in scrubs and a kind, but forceful, police officer were immediately welcomed into the crowd. The question was how to deal with all the people — by then, an estimated 15,000. As soon as I heard about one crisis, I would be grabbed for another; there was simply no way to logically triage it all.”
Dr. Henderson moved to New Orleans in August 2005 to take a position as Director of Anatomic Pathology at Ochsner Foundation Hospital. Prior to that, he was a practicing pathologist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC. He was staying at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans for an Ochsner staff leadership retreat when the storm began to head directly toward Louisiana.
The College of American Pathologists is a medical society that serves nearly 16,000 physician members and the laboratory community throughout the world. It is the world's largest association composed exclusively of pathologists and is widely considered the leader in laboratory quality assurance. The College is an advocate for high-quality and cost-effective medical care.