NORMAN J CLEMENT RPH., DDS, NORMAN L.CLEMENT PHARM-TECH, MALACHI F. MACKANDAL PHARMD, BELINDA BROWN-PARKER, IN THE SPIRIT OF JOSEPH SOLVO ESQ., INC.T. SPIRIT OF REV. C.T. VIVIAN, JELANI ZIMBABWE CLEMENT, BS., MBA., IN THE SPIRIT OF THE HON. PATRICE LUMUMBA, IN THE SPIRIT OF ERLIN CLEMENT SR., WALTER F. WRENN III., MD., JULIE KILLINGWORTH, LESLY POMPY MD., CHRISTOPHER RUSSO, MD., NANCY SEEFELDT, WILLIE GUINYARD BS., JOSEPH WEBSTER MD., MBA, BEVERLY C. PRINCE MD., FACS., NEIL ARNAND, MD., RICHARD KAUL, MD., LEROY BAYLOR, JAY K. JOSHI MD., MBA, ADRIENNE EDMUNDSON, ESTER HYATT PH.D., WALTER L. SMITH BS., IN THE SPIRIT OF BRAHM FISHER ESQ., MICHELE ALEXANDER MD., CUDJOE WILDING BS, MARTIN NJOKU, BS., RPH., IN THE SPIRIT OF DEBRA LYNN SHEPHERD, BERES E. MUSCHETT, STRATEGIC ADVISORS
“Tulsa Mass Shooter killed a hero and my friend; I am not sad. I AM F**KING ENRAGED!
HARVEY JENKINS MD., PH.D. ORTHOPEDIC SPINE SURGEON
First, I heard the building. From the pictures from the scene on the news, it looked familiar. I briefly had an office in that same building for a while. I was on the phone with an out-of-state friend who used to live here when the Yahoo alert came over my phone. I told my friend. He said, “Things are so crazy.” My laser tech texted me and said, “that was our building.” I texted back yes, but then put it out of my mind.
Then I heard an Orthopedic Surgeon had been killed, his assistants, and possibly another physician. I knew there was an extensive Ortho practice on the floor below. Senator Inhofe’s late son died in a plane crash and was one of their surgeons. So I thought, “Gee, they’ve had a lot of Bad Luck…”
Then I heard the victim and target, a doctor, was Black.
On the one hand, you can count the number of Black Orthopedic Surgeons (and Spine Surgeons) in Oklahoma. For a time, he and I were the only two black Orthopedic Spine Surgeons in Oklahoma, and we both came from the same place and were trained by the same Orthopedic Spine Surgeon & Department Chair.
It was Preston.
Dr. Preston Phillips was the favorite Orthopedic Spine surgeon my mentor, Dr. Augustus White III, had ever trained. Dr. White was the first Black Orthopedic Department Chair at Harvard. Dr. White was internationally revered and considered one of the founding fathers of modern Orthopedic Spine Surgery. He was trained at Stanford and Yale, where he succeeded despite being the only one of his kind.
Yet, Dr. White never lost sight of the struggle nor the obstacles in getting there. Dr. White, remained a leading voice for diversity in medicine. Like magnets, Dr. White and Preston found each other, and Dr. White was able to begin to transfer not only his knowledge but his empathy in the practice of Spine Surgery to a protege.
Preston was a product of the Ivy League and managed at every single step of his education to succeed with distinction. His credentials were unimpeachable. For whatever reason, I reminded him of Preston because I was the only the second black Orthopedic Spine Surgeon he had ever trained. And he expected me to be like Preston, but I wasn’t even close.
Preston was on a whole other LEVEL of intellect. There were articles about him when he was a college student and med student. He had academic publications, exceedingly rare for residency and fellowship candidates. His resume of accomplishments was not just impressive but incredible. Every kind of award or honor which could be bestowed on a college student, med student, or resident, Preston won it. He was ALWAYS more qualified than any one of his cohorts.
When I started my Spine Surgery fellowship (apprenticeship) after my Orthopedic Surgery Residency (about two years after Preston did), Dr. White could not stop talking about Preston from the moment I got there.. how smart…how skilled… how talented… how kind he was. Dr. White’s 2 Secretaries felt the same way. They adored him. Being kind was the only talent I had that was strong enough to compete with someone who was essentially close to perfect.
When Preston came to Oklahoma, he called me to tell me he had landed a job in Tulsa. Dr. White told him I was here too for my first job. I wondered what the heck they offered him to attract one of the nation’s most talented Orthopedic Spine Surgeons to Tulsa. I told him I’d been here for a couple of years… and that he would love it and the people here. I told him It is not nearly as ‘fast-paced’ as Boston nor as cold in the winter, but the cost of living will be better than any place he had ever lived. I did warn him about Orthopedic Group practices being a bit shady, but that is probably true everywhere and in every specialty.
He had previously been working at Harborview in Seattle, one of the best Trauma Hospitals in the nation, in an academic position. Still, He decided a private practice was something he wanted to explore.
I lost touch with Preston after moving to Tulsa, except for seeing him in Boston once when our boss retired from academic practice. I always assumed he would move somewhere else, more prominent, fancier.
I was mortified to learn how his life ended at the hands of a mass shooter. He was one of the best we had to offer the country and the world. Unfortunately, little Black boys and girls no longer have this hero, this beacon, and this landmark of hope.
I am not sad. I am ENRAGED…
FOR NOW, YOU ARE WITHIN