Dr. B. W. Henderson Honored For Service

For 42 years Dr. B.W. Henderson has made his rounds in Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital. Seven days a week he visits his hospitalized patients. One patient said,  " He always comes by to say, to drop in and say, ' Hey, man, you doing alright today?' And he's a doctor patient's families never forget. Tona Green walks over to him in the hall and recalls how Henderson helped her father years ago.    " You done him really well and I'm real proud of you, " she said.

Henderson and his patients are thankful he gave up pathology. Henderson, in a matter of fact tone said, " It's a whole lot different than taking care of the dead. "

Not all Nacogdoches residents have Henderson as a doctor, but they do benefit from his efforts. His concern for a patient led to a blood center.   Henderson recalled,  " I couldn't get any blood from Tyler and at that point when she almost died, I remember she was in bed 10 in our old intensive care unit, I decided that Nacogdoches needed their own blood supply. " Another Henderson led endeavor was a one cent sales tax for the hospital district. That money pays for state of the art equipment found in the intensive care unit now named in his honor.

Henderson gives the nurses full credit for the design. In return they give him full respect. ICU Nurse Manager, Debbie Free said, " We respect him a lot and in turn he respects all of our nurses as well and that makes him special. "  Director of Medical/Critical Care Services, Ann Scott said, " He's kinda our 'go to' person. If we don't know what this disease is, it's like, 'Dr. Henderson, what's so and so?', and he just kinda spits it out to you." ICU Nurse Martie Fowler said of Henderson, " He's great to all of us. Calls all us by name. We can get him. He always calls us right back and patients think very highly of him and so do we. "

Hundreds filled Memorial Hospital's lobby to pay tribute to a doctor so dedicated to his service that he makes occasional house calls. " We're celebrating greatness," said Memorial Hospital Director Tim Hayward to the crowd. Henderson enjoyed the honor and shared,  " I'm proud they did it before I die. "

In his mid seventies Henderson says he's not planning to retire anytime soon. Dr. Henderson said if any thing runs him out of the business it will be the system itself. He calls himself a conservative who's growing weary of Medicare issues, insurance companies and the hassles of staying in business.   But for now he continues to make his rounds because there are too many people counting on him.

More on Dr Henderson. Following story written by Kim Barton, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital Public Relations Director

"He's a warrior for the people of Nacogdoches County. We don't have a single major service line that Dr. B.W.  Henderson hasn't had some sort of hand in establishing through the years," says Tim Hayward, administrator of Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital. That's why the hospital's Intensive Care Unit will be named in honor of the long-time internal medicine specialist and former board member, during a special reception Tuesday, April 29.

In some ways, Dr. B.W.  Henderson can be seen as a founding father of Memorial Hospital. Although, he wasn't here when the doors first opened in 1928, it is hard to imagine a time at Memorial Hospital when Dr. Henderson's substantial presence hasn't been felt since he first joined the medical staff in 1966.

"He's unquestionably one of the best doctors to ever practice medicine in Nacogdoches. When you're in front of him, you're in front of him. You have his absolutely undivided attention and the force of his intellect moving in your favor. That focus makes him a remarkable diagnostician," said Hayward. "But simply being a talented, dedicated doctor has never been enough for Dr. Henderson. He figured out a long time ago that one of the best ways to serve his patients, and I guess the medical staff too, was to embrace the responsibility of leadership."

Dr. Henderson served on the Nacogdoches County Hospital District board of directors for 12 years, from 1986 to 1998, serving as chairman of that board for six terms.  He also served as Chief of Medical Staff from 1976 to 1978 and again from 1982-1984. During his tenure on the board, the hospital made many decisions that changed the face of healthcare in Nacogdoches.

"Probably the most important thing I helped accomplish was to secure the one cent sales tax back in the early 90s," recalled Dr. Henderson. "Bob DeWitt and I headed up a committee, along with the administrator at the time, Jim Richardson, that went after the sales tax and rolled back the property tax. That one-cent sales tax has been the salvation of this hospital since then. It's made all the difference in what we could do for the community."

Another proud moment for Dr. Henderson to reflect on was the establishment of the East Texas Blood Center. That achievement originated in frustration. "I had a patient in Bed 10 in the old ICU. Her hemoglobin was down to 2.5 and I couldn't get blood from Tyler, no matter how many times I called the guy. He'd stopped off somewhere and was nowhere to be found and it took 12 hours to reach him and 15 hours before I could get blood to my patient. We needed our own source for blood."

"I knew how many units of blood we were supplying to the Tyler blood bank, because I'd sent 400 to 500 units we'd collected for them from college students here," Dr. Henderson recalls. "I knew the supply was here to support our own blood center and I decided we needed to open our own for the sake of our patients."

As was often the case, Dr. Henderson decided something and then took action to make it so. The East Texas Blood Center opened its doors on April 5, 1980. "Tyler opposed it, tried to block it from happening, but I picked up the phone and called a friend of mine who served on the American Association of Blood Banks. She knew we had the need and could support our own blood bank. She helped us push it through."

"Pushing it through" was a term Dr. Henderson stayed familiar with in the early years of his time at Memorial. In his earliest days here, he worked with then-administrator Victor Cuthrill, researching the possibility of forming a hospital district. The Texas State Legislature passed the act that created the Nacogdoches County Hospital District unanimously during the 60th Regular Session on May 17, 1967.

As a member of the Nacogdoches County Hospital District Board, Dr. Henderson actively participated in establishing the cardiovascular medicine program and the cardiac catheterization lab and then served as medical director for the service for a decade. He also served as medical director for ICU for a decade at the same time.

Dr. Henderson "pushed" to establish a dialysis clinic at Memorial and later to keep it, when a Lufkin hospital started its own. Dr. Henderson "pushed" for the establishment of a much-needed gastroenterology lab, radioisotope lab and a hyperbaric medicine unit, serving as medical director for any unit that needed him throughout the years. He "pushed" to create a system of payment for medical staff physicians providing indigent care at Memorial and he "pushed back" when a Tyler hospital tried a controversial take-over maneuver in the mid 1990s.

"The man truly has a vision for what's best for Memorial Hospital and he's not afraid to fight the fight," says Hayward. "What's interesting is that when you ask him why he's pushed so hard, why not just be a regular, hard-working physician, he seems confused by the question. To be other than a fighter has just never occurred to him."

"Academically, Dr. Henderson is a scholar worthy of the highest honor," notes Hayward. After receiving his first degree in veterinary medicine from Texas A&M at College Station, Dr. Henderson transferred to human medicine and earned his medical degree from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School.  He interned at St. Paul's Hospital in Dallas shortly before starting his first residency training in anatomic and clinical pathology at the University of Texas and Parkland Memorial Hospital. He concluded his residency training in internal medicine at the Scott and White Clinic and Hospital in Temple, TX.  After residency training, Dr. Henderson received training in the United States Air Force at Brooks Air Base in the Aerospace Medical Center, School of Aviation Medicine, where he became a designated flight surgeon. Because of his training in human and veterinary medicine, he was chosen for the Aerospace Medicine Department School of Aviation Medicine, where he participated in one of the initial experiments on animals in outer space.

Dr. Henderson began his Memorial career in a position with the pathology lab in 1966 and has been a Fellow in the American Society of Clinical Pathologist from 1965 to present. He was also a founding member and Fellow in the American College of Nuclear Medicine, maintaining that status to the present time.

Along with his medical accomplishments, Dr. Henderson has also been active within the community in public service and politics, serving as co-founder and first County Chairman of Republic Party of Nacogdoches County.