Physician Award for Voluntary Community Service Feature

Last Updated: Dec 9, 2022

With a global health career spanning over the last decade, Patricia C. Henwood, M.D. currently serves as the James D and Mary Jo Danella Chief Quality Officer for Jefferson Health and an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. She was recognized by PAMED with the 2022 Voluntary International Service Award for her focus on global health, humanitarian emergencies and point-of-care ultrasounds.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, she attended Georgetown University for her undergraduate degree and went the Thomas Jefferson University for medical school before deciding to do her residency in emergency medicine with Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Henwood says her interest in global health started before she even attended medical school.

“I’ve always had an interest in global health,” she said, “I had done some mobile medical work in Central American and Ethiopia before medical school and then went to Harvard affiliated hospital because of the global health strength of their emergency medicine program.”

But really her work in community outreach and service started with her roots in Philadelphia, having experienced underserved communities before the medical aspect became of interest.

“I had always grown up in a fairly service orientated context in terms of looking at communities in need and finding ways to address it. Even having been involved in homeless shelters growing up in Philadelphia. I had that exposure through both my upbringing and school context where there were outreach opportunities,” Dr. Henwood said.

“I always had an interest in looking to areas where there is a disproportionate need and feeling the values of focusing my efforts on those spaces. I think a saw a lot of that in the global health community as I got more and more exposure to the work with the potential for impact.”

In 2010, Dr. Henwood volunteered her time during the Haiti earthquake response, which she pinpoints as the start of the development of her volunteer-based non-profit, Point-of-care Ultrasound in Resource-limited Environments (PURE), founded in 2011.

“It really grew out of my experience in Haiti when I was in residency training at the time, but I had access to ultrasounds in a field hospital and realizing the number of conditions it was helpful in triaging at times when we were considering the need for a transfer or diagnosing,” she said.

Dr. Henwood said, “I really started looking towards programs that would be training the local health care practitioners in the use of ultrasounds because it was important in terms of local capacity and sustainability.”

Since then, she has successfully led this work by developing partnerships with numerous hospitals, universities, local public health departments, and ministries of health and leading the development and expansion of clinical ultrasound training and research programs in Rwanda, Uganda, Liberia, and Tanzania.

In addition, Dr. Henwood was part of the humanitarian response to the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa in 2014-2015 and served as a medical director at the first Ebola Treatment Unit launched by a US-based humanitarian organization.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first surfaced in the United States, Dr. Henwood was a leader in preparing hospitals and the community-at-large in diagnosing and treating impacted patients.

“I certainly felt better prepared than I would have liked,” she said. “Similar to my experience with Ebola, we had less information about the coronavirus and its transmission and about steps we needed to take to keep ourselves safe and patients safe. It felt similar in a lot of ways in the terms of the idea of innovation and adaption and how much we had to pivot early in the pandemic and continuing to deal with different variants of concern.”

Dr. Henwood led more than a hundred volunteer physicians, nurses, and students from Jefferson in offering 24/7 COVID-19 vaccination access at the airport for arriving evacuees and led in the development and execution a novel family-centered medical care delivery model on arrival in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and leaders from other local health systems.

Of receiving the Voluntary International Service award, Dr. Henwood said she was grateful for the recognition.

She said, “It was a pleasant surprise and I appreciate the recognition for the work. Its positive for me to be able to do work that I can see the positive impact that it has had on communities and patients. I’m also incredibly grateful for the mentors I have had along that way that have taught me to do the work.”

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