Last Updated: May 31, 2019
David Hennessey, MD is a pediatrician who practiced at Sewickley Valley Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in Wexford, Pa. until his retirement earlier this year. He was in active practice for 45 years, including 33 years at Sewickley Valley Pediatrics. He is the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Everyday Hero Award winner for May 2019.
Earlier this year, Dr. David Hennessey found himself working in villages nestled high in the Guatemalan mountains, 9,000 feet above sea level.
For the past 19 years, Dr. Hennessey has volunteered with medical mission trips to Guatemala, where he spends one to two weeks providing pediatric care in rural areas. He says the families he meets there are wonderful and courageous.
“It’s a whole different experience of pediatrics,” he says. The health problems he sees in the children there are unlike those he encountered while practicing in Pennsylvania. The teams he works with treat conditions like parasitic ailments and respiratory diseases caused by cooking over open fires.
Guatemala has a large rural population. Many of the villages where Dr. Hennessey volunteers are not accessible by vehicle, and his team carries their equipment and supplies in by horseback.
He first got involved with medical mission trips through friends at his daughter’s church. Over the years, he has volunteered with several organizations – most recently with Children of the Americas, a non-profit volunteer group that provides medical services to the women and children of Guatemala.
“It’s been an important part of my career,” says Dr. Hennessey of his volunteer work. “The need is tremendous."
Dr. Hennessey has been inspired throughout his career by a New Testament Bible verse from Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Pediatrics proved to be a calling for Dr. Hennessey. “I never regretted my decision,” he says about his choice of specialty. When he first decided to become a physician, he had plans to join his uncle as a family physician in Wayne, Pa. Once he entered his residency, though, he realized that he enjoyed working with children and he chose pediatrics.
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Dr. Hennessey served in the Air Force for four years following his residency. After his military service ended, he decided he wanted to bring pediatrics to a rural area and spent time practicing in Titusville, Pa.
He and his wife Anne then chose to settle in the Pittsburgh area. Dr. Hennessey practiced at Sewickley Valley Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in Wexford, Pa. for 33 years, until his retirement earlier this year.
His compassion for his patients made a strong impression his colleagues at Sewickley Valley Pediatrics. Colleagues share that Dr. Hennessey always went above and beyond for his patients and their families, making sure to spend as much with them as needed and helping them to navigate care pathways outside the office.
Dr. Hennessey also served as a school doctor – while he was in the Air Force and then for several decades in Pittsburgh area school districts. He comes from a family with many teachers and says his work as a school doctor was a way for him to continue that tradition.
2019 has been a year of milestones for Dr. Hennessey and his family. First, there was his retirement from Sewickley Valley Pediatrics. Now, he and his wife are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They will commemorate that occasion with their three children – Lauren, Paige, and Graham – and four grandchildren. The opportunity to share this special event with loved ones is well deserved.