Civil Rights Pioneer Praises Mercy for Person-Centered Care
Dr. William G. Anderson receives Lifetime Achievement Award at Mercy Philadelphia Lecture Series
West Philadelphia, PA - The personal physician to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks—and a civil rights pioneer in his own right—spent the day at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital on Wednesday. Dr. William G. Anderson served as keynote speaker and received the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Tenth Annual C. Jules Rominger, MD FACR Lecture Series.
Anderson spoke on the topic “Courage of Reform in Medicine – A Personal Reflection.” His reflection centered on his experiences as a physician in 1960s Georgia, where he returned after his medical training at the urging of his wife.
“That’s where my services were needed,” he said. “It wasn’t about the practice of medicine, it was about the practice of life.”
He recalled making house calls to patients who lived in unsanitary conditions with no electricity. On some nights, he drove his car right up to the house’s window, shining the lights in the room where he had to deliver a baby.
“It was just me and the patient back then. I took care of patients in those conditions they found themselves in. Those days are gone, but the patients’ needs are the same.”
These days, Anderson says, it’s not only just him and the patient, but a physician reviewer, a lawyer, an ethicist, STARK and the latest technology “all with the common objective that the patient gets the best care possible.”
But in spite of all that, he says, physicians must not lose the most basic relationship with patients.
“No matter how smart you get, you can’t give up caring for the patient’s psychological, emotional and physical health. Never let technology trump the soul, the art and heart of medicine,” he told the audience which included Mercy medical staff members and administration.
Anderson also recounted his friendship with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He quoted King, saying “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”
“For something as basic and fundamental as healthcare, there should be no barriers,” added Anderson. “That’s why I’m so proud of Mercy for taking care of everyone and never turning anyone down for healthcare.”
Before speaking at the evening event, Anderson spent the day at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital with medical residents, one of whom had the honor of introducing him to the audience.
Dr. Michael Ruzek, a third-year internal medicine resident at Mercy, has known Anderson for six years. He said, “In the spirit of humanitarianism and service, what a great speaker to have. This man is a piece of American history.”
Anderson gained national attention when he served as president of the Albany Movement in the 1960s. He became the first African-American member of the Board of Trustees of the American Osteopathic Association and is highly regarded as a physician and hospital administrator. He is past president of the American Osteopathic Association and Senior Advisor to the Dean of Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The C. Jules Rominger, MD FACR Lecture Series is named after the Mercy Philadelphia and Mercy Fitzgerald radiation oncologist who has dedicated his life to care for people in West Philadelphia for more than half a century.
Rominger has spent virtually his entire working career with Mercy and continues to provide dedicated service and compassionate, quality care to his patients, many of whom he has followed for decades after successfully curing their cancers. Rominger continues to practice at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital to this day.
Mercy Philadelphia Hospital CEO, Kathryn Conallen (left) and Dr. Jules
Rominger (right) present Dr. William G. Anderson with the Lifetime