We asked doctors this year to write their own tributes to colleagues they wanted to see honored. Here are their words (and, when names were given, the authors).
DR. BADIH ADADA
Neurosurgeon, Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Recently I found a brain tumor on a 10-year-old white male. Referred him to ACH and he had [around a] 10-hour neurosurgery done and has done incredibly well. At first we were told he might not make it through the surgery, but with all the great care of Arkansas Children’s Hospital he pulled through just fine. Tumor was found to be benign (first thought to be malignant).
— Dr. Kelly McElroy
DR. TOM ATKINSON
A. Spends time with each patient
B. LISTENS (a unique ability)
C. Understands CAUSE and EFFECT
D. Patients are intensely loyal to him.
— Dr. Doty Murphy
DR. ROBERT LEE ARCHER
Neurologist, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Dr. Archer is an excellent doctor, kind to all his patients and associates.
DR. JOE BATES
Interim co-director, Arkansas Health Department; internist nationally known for work in tuberculosis
Dr. Joe Bates was chief of staff at the Little Rock Veterans Administration Hospital for about 30 years. He helped change the hospital from what it was to a quality care facility. He used to take morning report every weekday and weekend, where he would review the previous night’s admissions with the young doctors — residents and interns — who had taken care of the patients overnight. Woe unto the young MD who had not done a good job. This is where Joe earned his nickname, “Mad Dog Bates.” Joe is an internationally known researcher in tuberculosis. The lab team he built developed the nucleic acid tools for rapid diagnosis. Retiring from the VA at age 65 years, Joe continued to help public health, working to try to improve the Arkansas Health Department (a monumental task). Pushing 70, Joe continues to be a mentor, a leader and an inspiration.
DR. DAVID BECTON
Chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
David was “raised” in Little Rock. He went to medical school, did his residency in Little Rock. He left to do his fellowship at Duke, then came back. When he returned to Little Rock, the pediatric cancer program saw about 40 new patients a year. David worked tirelessly to spread the word that children with cancer did not have to go to Memphis, Dallas or Houston for their care. Now, over 100 children a year from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana come to Little Rock. This is a testimony to his commitment to give kids the best care possible. The pediatric hematology-oncology section was built for this purpose; David was the key to its growth.
DR. JOE BISSETT
Professor of medicine and cardiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Dr. Bissett is one of the most caring and competent doctors I have ever known. He treats every patient as though they were family. He is very humble and has taught many of our state’s cardiologists. He is also one of the nicest persons I have ever known. He offered once to make a house call on my father who was over 100 miles away and was sincere and would have if I said OK.
DR. TOM BRUCE
Associate Dean, Clinton School for Public Service
It is a pleasure for me to admit my admiration and gratitude, of and to Dr. Tom Bruce. As dean he supported and guided me in the struggle to develop the department of family medicine. The new specialty was established as the 20th specialty in American medicine to respond to the need recognized by public and professionals for a generalist with broad and disciplined training. Tom Bruce understood the need, supported the development.
— Dr. Kenneth Goss
DR. MIKE CHESSER
Considerate, well-grounded with information and skills.
DR. JEFF COHEN
Internal medicine, pulmonary disease, Jonesboro
Dr. Cohen has been awarded the “Living the Mission” award from St. Bernard’s. He is quite competent, friendly, caring, responsive and in general a great guy. It is a privilege to have him as a colleague and a friend.
DR. GLENN DAVIS
Cheerful, bright, good skills, sound judgment.
DR. LYNN DAVIS
Calm, good judgment.
DR. PATRICK FIELDS
General practitioner, Little Rock, retired
Dr. Fields is the ultimate primary care doctor. He made house calls, always spent all the time needed. [In case of death] he would go to the home to prepare his patient and greet the funeral home when they came for the body. An all-around great doctor.
DR. WILLIAM FISER JR.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, retired
He has turned around ARORA (Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency) and has made it into one of the most productive organ procurement agencies in the United States. This has greatly improved organ transplantation in Arkansas and will help with the development of the first new liver transplant center in Arkansas. Job well done!
DR. JOHANNES MICHAEL GRUENWALD
Orthopedic surgeon, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Because he cares.
DR. JOE B. HALL
The best physician I have met in 40 years who is still alive is Joe B. Hall, M.D., of Fayetteville. He is the ideal combination of world-class scientific knowledge and almost divine humanistic understanding and compassion in the personal patient physician relationship. Ne plus ultra. In retirement, he is using the Arkansas Country Doctor Museum in Lincoln as a mirror to emphasize the all-but-lost intimate bond between patient and physician that we cherished before the intrusion of insurance companies, HMOs, managed greed and government.
DR. JOHN HAMPTON
Careful and thorough, good instincts, sharp minded
DR. ANDREW HENRY
In my opinion, Andrew Henry, cardiologist in Little Rock, is without question the best physician in the state of Arkansas. As an emergency room physician and also a general practitioner in Russellville, I can speak with authority when it comes to my recommendation. Dr. Henry has provided cardiological services for residents of our community for the past several years and I have never called him without him responding to my request for immediate care of our patients here in the River Valley. While working in the emergency room in Dardanelle, there was an occasion where I needed his expert care for a patient that had to be transferred emergently to the Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock. I asked the nurse to contact Dr. Henry, not knowing he was not on call. Evidently, she was able to call his answering service and they contacted him on his cell phone, not knowing that he was on vacation out of state. Within a matter of minutes, he returned my call, indicating that he was on vacation but had made all the arrangements to have the patient transferred to the Heart Hospital and contacted a physician there to accept the patient in transfer, thereby saving the patient’s life. Obviously, this is only one of numerous instances where Dr. Henry has come to the rescue of our patients here.
— Dr. Jacky F. Dunn, Russellville
DR. COBURN HOWELL
Dr. Howell is always cheerful, positive, professionally current and vitally interested in his patients, never rushing. Now, more than ever, that is a rare breed.
Not only does he listen to the patient’s heart, he listens with his heart, seeing the whole patient.
DR. JAMES MORSE
James Morse enters, attentive, quiet, inquisitive about your complaints. He follows up on your statements, clarifying any questions. His touch is gentle — his examination thorough, asking and answering questions. No sense of rush. Time is spent efficiently, effectively. Above all, a sense of dignity, thoroughness, respect. He notes his limitations, outlines means to enlarge. Above all, a quiet peace of thoroughness, respect. I leave in peace, satisfaction, purposeful, planning to improve.
DR. KEN MURPHY
General surgeon, Conway
Dr. Murphy is a master — a wizard in the practice of medicine. This comes from dedication to keep up with current literature, applying years of clinical experience and dedication to his patients. He is able to care for non-surgical problems in his patients with expertise not usually seen in a surgeon. This makes him a complete doctor! He truly stand out among his peers.
DR. PAT OSAM
Not only is Pat Osam one of my best friends but I’d let him operate on my family or myself, without thinking twice. He is kind, compassionate, meticulous, and dependable. He always goes the extra mile to insure that his patients receive the very best pre-op education, intraoperative state of the art care, and most importantly, he follows through with knowledgeable, concerned and comprehensive post operative care. He makes sure the patient leaves the hospital better than when they entered. In fact, he is so well known for these qualities that his colleagues refer to him some of the most difficult, complex and sickest patients in their practices. Perhaps the most endearing attribute he has earned is his ability to “be with,” to “console,” and “comfort” families of the rare patient he loses after having done his best (with God’s help). He is in a league by himself in my opinion.
— Dr. Presky Jackson
DR. FERNANDO PADILLA
Super bright, very conscientious.
DR. WENDELL PAHLS
ER doctor, Baptist Medical Center
I do not have a specific story but Dr. Pahls is one of the ER docs at Baptist Medical Center at BMC-LR. He will ride the trauma helicopter to where the victims are, perform life-saving measures at the site, then ride back on the chopper with the patient to the hospital. All the while doing whatever is needed to stabilize the patient. Since it would take six men and a mule to get me in a helicopter, I think what he does is special.
DR. PHIL PETERS
Bright, cheerful, smart
DR. EDDIE PHILLIPS
In 1992, our first baby died when she was just a day old of a rare congenital heart defect called hypopalstic left heart syndrome. We were devastated. I was only a month into my first year of residency. My parents lived in New York and I felt so helpless. I never understood how people could commit suicide but I prayed every night I just wouldn’t wake up the next morning. If it weren’t for my OB/GYN Dr. Eddie Phillips I don’t know how we would have made it. He advised us to jump right in there and have another baby right away. He spent hours with us, with me and at delivery. Everything was perfect! Over the last 13 years he’s delivered four beautiful healthy children for us. He’s also become a very dear friend. He is the most compassionate, sincere, talented and attentive doctor I’ve ever met.
— Dr. Ann R. Trussell
DR. DAVID REDING
I recommend you do a story on Dr. David Reding. He’s exceptional. He really cares about his patients, explains things to them so they can understand. He’s looking to do the right thing for the patient instead of what makes money. The reason he’s exceptional is that he still does everything. He’s a good neurologist; he takes care of the medical side as well. Traditionally, a neurologist will take care of Parkinson’s, MS, strokes, seizures and the surgeon will do the brain and back. In his group at Baptist, when they have tough problems, they come to him. He’s got good judgment — he’ll say, “I don’t think surgery is the right thing to do for this.”
— Dr. Brad Boop
DR. MICHAEL L. SCHMITZ
Professor of anesthesiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Dr. Mike Schmitz individually reorganized and provided the pediatric cardiac anesthesia support for Dr. [Jonathan] Drummond-Webb. After Webb’s arrival in 2001, Dr. Schmitz was on call every night for a year, and since 2002 as additional pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists were recruited, he has continued to work diligently to establish a world-wide reputation for the pediatric cardiac program at ACH in Drummond-Webb’s shadow. Skilled and well-educated anesthesiologists are often taken for granted in surgery programs. Dr. Schmitz is brilliant, intensely committed to his patients and colleagues and has innumerable interests, including pediatric pain treatment, medical ethics and end-of-life care, in addition to pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, where he has almost exclusively practiced for the past four years. Arkansas is blessed to have a physician of Mike’s knowledge and skill.
— Dr. Tim Martin
I asked my favorite doctor, Dr. Abdalla Tahiri, if I may write to you as a medical professional who works very closely with him. I’m a registered nurse at St. Vincent Infirmary and I think “Dr. T.” deserves to be recognized not only for the wonderful, caring doctor he is to his patients, but also because he is so kind to the nurses and staff members. He said he worked as an X-ray tech before the radiologists at Baptist [Health] convinced him to attend medical school. It’s obvious in the way he treats his staff members that he has never forgotten his humble beginnings. He is well loved and respected by his peers, also, and as a gastroenterologist is often called upon to care for family members of the doctors and nurses. He is a brilliant physician who has mentored many of the young MDs in the area, but to my mother he is simply “an angel.” Dr. T. saved her life about six months ago when she was near death from sepsis and dehydration. He is a hero to me personally, but everyday I see the miracles he produces for others. Not every decision he makes for his patients are life and death, but each decision is important to that patient. He is so caring and spends time talking with families and patients, answering questions and reassuring even the most scared, nervous souls. Dr. Tahiri deserves recognition as one of the best MDs in our area, although he is so humble, he would never seek glory for himself.
DR. KENT WESTBROOK
Surgeon, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
I feel Kent Westbrook is a doctor of extraordinary skill. He has terrific skill as a leader. He also has wonderful relationships and rapport with his patients. I have referred patients for over 25 years and always get excellent feedback praising his care.