While you may not have noticed the change a couple weeks ago, an important innovator and community leader passed from among us on Aug. 27.
Dr. Hadley Parrot, a pillar of our medical community for more than 50 years, died leaving behind a legacy of programs in our community that we have long come to consider part of our everyday lives.
I would be remiss if I allowed the occasion of his passing to go by without some public acknowledgment of the footprints he leaves behind in our medical landscape.
Dr. Parrot, an internal medicine physician with an interest in cancer treatment, was a leader of Eastern Maine General Hospital’s medical staff in the late 1960s and medical staff president in 1967 and 1968. It was a turbulent time at EMGH, the hospital having experienced several successive years of operating deficits.
Members of the medical staff were expressing concern about the hospital’s ability to support the provision of modern medical care, with Dr. Parrot helping to lead the discussions. The result was a consulting report that recommended a new patient tower with special service line focus, a new medical office building to support physician practices, regional planning with other hospitals to maximize the region’s ability to support care close to home and minimize duplication of efforts, and an expansion of teaching and research programs.
It was essentially EMMC’s first step toward a regional approach to medical care for northern, eastern and central Maine.
Dr. Parrot was appointed chief of medical service in 1973, in time to lead the medical service as the Grant Tower opened, and to preside over tremendous expansion of medical subspecialties at what was now called Eastern Maine Medical Center.
True to his particular interest, Dr. Parrot became EMMC’s first medical oncologist and the first head of the oncology section of the medical staff. Dr. Parrot recognized the importance of EMMC’s fledgling oncology program having strong ties to an academic center. He established an early and personal relationship with Dr. Sidney Farber of the “Jimmy Fund,” now the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. That close relationship has continued for many years with the physicians of that center and has been of great importance to the cancer program, the medical oncologists of EMMC Cancer Care, and our patients.
Dr. Parrot also was responsible for initiating clinical cancer research, which has continued and been of great value to our patients and our program.
In 1981, Dr. Parrot was awarded EMMC’s Distinguished Service Award for his tremendous service and work on behalf of EMMC for the patients of our region. Even as he received this award, he was working with another community group whose efforts resulted in Bangor’s Ronald McDonald House. Opening in 1983, it was the first in Maine and remains only one of two here, providing a homelike place to stay, as well as support for the families of children struggling with serious illness, particularly childhood cancers.
Dr. Parrot was deeply committed to medical education and continuous learning. And the Hadley Parrot Health Science Library, so named in 1986, remains a gathering place and haven for study for those whose vision continues to lead EMMC along the path of improvement that Hadley fostered in another day.
When EMMC cut the ribbon on the new home of Cancer Care in the Lafayette Family Cancer Center building on Whiting Hill in Brewer, Dr. Parrot was there to see it. He was there, as the quintessential expert on oncology at EMMC, to share with a gathered audience some of the finer historic points that culminated in that December day in 2009.
I can only imagine the satisfaction he felt as he walked through this new facility, a comprehensive and nationally recognized program that was not even a twinkle in his eye when he began at EMMC.
So, at EMMC, we will pause on Oct. 1 to remember Hadley and reflect on his influence on what we now consider to be part of daily life in our community — things he imagined and helped make real in the century past.
We thank him for his vision and the brain and muscle he put behind his vision. He has made a difference, and he will be missed.
Deborah Carey Johnson is president and CEO of Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.