It was the beginning of a new era. On September 4, 2008, interventional cardiologist Dr. Mark Henderson joined the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre team to help establish a remote stand-alone angioplasty program – the first of its kind in Ontario. He soon took on the additional positions of Executive Vice President, Patient Services for Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre; and, Regional Vice President, Cancer Services, North West Regional Cancer Program for Cancer Care Ontario
Many will be saddened to learn that Dr. Henderson retired from the cardiac catheterization lab on September 15, 2017. He will also step down from his administrative positions effective March 31, 2018.
“Our Board of Directors and Senior Leadership Team are extremely grateful to Dr. Henderson for his exemplary leadership, dedication and enthusiasm that have led to monumental transformations of health care on many clinical and administrative levels,” said Hospital President & CEO, Jean Bartkowiak.
Under Dr. Henderson’s leadership, the Hospital launched a second cardiac cath lab and the 24/7 angioplasty service that has saved or enhanced the lives of countless patients. “Mark’s expertise prepared him to be an unflappable, wise leader for the team,” reflected Arlene Thomson, Senior Director, Cardiovascular Program Development and Implementation. “He immediately inspired trust in patients and confidence in the staff.”
That was critical, because Dr. Henderson came to Thunder Bay at a time when “Stand Alone Angioplasty” was not fully valued across the health system. There were rumors it would be unsafe. His experience and unique skill set quickly dampened those rumors.
When Dr. Henderson reflects on first days at our Hospital, what stands out is the high need for the angioplasty service. “There was an even greater demand for angioplasty than we anticipated,” Dr. Henderson recalled. “Patients were grateful to get the care here.”
He also noted the enthusiasm and professionalism of the team in the cardiac catheterization lab, where angioplasties are performed. “I can’t imagine a greater group of people. Their dedication, positivity and resilience resulted in a smooth period of change and enhanced care for patients.”
“Mark was always supporting and encouraging staff as they learned new techniques,” explained Thomson.” He quickly connected with colleagues in other areas and became known as a reliable expert. Everyone on the team liked to work with Mark. Sometimes staff argued about whose turn it was.”
His dedication was particularly inspiring. He was on-call almost daily for periods of up to 18 months. “Many nights when he was not on-call for emergencies, he would agree to come in the middle of the night, when called, to help a heart in need. Mark continued to be a role model right up until his last shift,” recalled Thomson.
Excellent outcomes promptly established patient confidence as well. Patients and their families were comforted by his skills, kindness and honesty. Thousands of patients have received care from Dr. Henderson over the past nine years.
Dr. Henderson has also been integral in advancing cancer services in the Northwest region during the past almost six years, working closely with Hospital and regional partners to build a strong regional cancer program to ensure patients receive fair and equitable high-quality care across the region.
Dr. Henderson leaves an impressive legacy. He has been an encouraging and supportive mentor for directors, managers, clinical staff and physicians. He has applied his expertise to successfully lead many changes and new initiatives at our Hospital and in the regional cancer program. The stand-alone angioplasty program was key in preparing the Hospital for a full medical and surgical cardiovascular program. His leadership helped pave the way to further expand cardiac and vascular care that is of great need in the region.
Additionally, his leadership and passion for philanthropy have inspired many in our community. ”Dr. Henderson has been a generous donor from day one,” said Glenn Craig, President and CEO of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “He’s made multiple gifts to our Hospital, but more importantly, Dr. Henderson has strengthened the importance of philanthropy in our community and encouraged others to join him in giving.”
Dr. Henderson will continue to see patients as part of his practice at Curans Heart Centre.