Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. pays tribute to the legacy of C. C. Henderson
As an example of the dedication and love Cicero Caesar best known as C. C. Henderson the late president/ CEO of Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (MHSI) had for Milwaukee’s African American community, MHSI announced that it will continue to provide access to care to the underserved. MHSI will remain open to exemplify the dedication and loyalty he bestowed upon the organization during his leadership. Henderson died suddenly Friday, August 27 at his home. He was 63. “Every day he strove to provide top quality care to as many uninsured and underinsured patients as possible,” said MHSI Chairman of the Board Spencer Coggs in a prepared statement.
“His leadership was instrumental in making MHSI one of the leading Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the country,” continued Senator Coggs.
Henderson was scheduled to be a panelist at the Saturday, August 28, Community Brainstorming Conference (CBC) Breakfast Forum at St. Matthews C.M.E Church. The panel focused on President Obama’s Health Care Plan Update with Emphasis on Medically Underserved Families and Individuals. This was a topic that Mr. Henderson felt very passionately about. According to a representative of MHSI, Mr. Henderson was going to discuss the impact of racial incarceration inequalities as it relates to racial health disparities. A symbolic empty chair with his name was at the table during the forum in his honor and Moderator Dr. Joan Prince, vice chancellor at UW-Milwaukee, facilitated a moment of silence before the start of the panel.
Immediately following the forum, MHSI held a press conference to publicly share the news of its leader passing. During the news conference, Sen. Coggs announced MHSI’s Chief Medical Officer Tito Izard, MD will be the interim president/CEO. A Milwaukee native, Izard has served as the medical director since 2006. Prior to joining MHSI he was an assistant professor and medical director for Aurora and the UW Medical School Department of Family Medicine for seven years. Dr. Izard continues to work with the residency program as a Clinical Associate Professor. “Mr. Henderson has created a solid foundation for our FQHC,” stated Dr. Izard, “which has allowed us to have significant growth during his tenure. He put together a strong management team that will continue his vision to provide greater access to quality health care.”
During the press conference, Izard recalled how Mr. Henderson instilled a high work ethic in the MHSI staff. “He would often say we don’t have time to be tired, the needs of the community were too great for us to get weary,” stated Dr. Izard. He exemplified each day what he demanded of staff by giving heart and soul to the organization.
Henderson was a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, from Wiley College, a Historically Black College in Marshall, Texas. He also continued his professional development by completing an Executive Development Program at the Harvard University School of Public Health and National Primary Care Institute. He also completed a variety of community, corporate and managed care organization sponsored workshops and seminars that have addressed health care delivery, finance, management, nonprofit boards and community based primary care.
C. C. Henderson has been an active voice in community health centers (CHCs) and various other aspects of health care delivery management for over 30 years.
Previous to his coming to Milwaukee, Henderson presided over Alton Park and Dodson Avenue CHC in Chattanooga Tennessee where he held the position of Executive Director, accountable for the operations of the $4.6 million hospital affiliated CHCs. Under his leadership, amongst other accomplishments, Henderson eliminated a significant financial deficit, funded capital improvements at the centers in excess of $1.5 million and successfully negotiated new CHC financial partners, including government and private foundations that resulted in new funding in excess of $1.5 million over a four year period.
Fortified with his track record of being a leader of organizational change, Mr. Henderson embarked into the entrepreneur ranks by establishing an independent consulting firm, Henderson Associates. For approximately eight years, Henderson Associates provided interim management services specializing in program stabilization, retention of federal grant funding and elimination of accumulated deficits.
Beginning in 1994 till 2000, Henderson served as Vice President of Operations at Tennessee Managed Care Network where he provided management and operational expertise in the areas of claims adjudication, marketing and provider relations. In 2000, Henderson’s responsibilities were shifted to the area of corporate compliance, with special emphasis on the Greer Consent Decree.
At Mr. Henderson’s arrival to MHSI in 2002, the organization was $5 million in debt. In 2004, MHSI served 16,941 patients. His hard work and dedication allowed MHSI to grow to now having an annual operational budget of $24 million, with no outstanding debt and serving over 30,000 patients annually with a staff of over 200. In mid August of this year, MHSI recorded its one millionth medical appointment.
MHSI is a private, non-profit, FQHC, providing a comprehensive range of primary medical services in addition to specialty services such as pharmacy, dental, HIV early intervention and behavioral healthcare. Service locations include the main sites of the MLK Heritage Health Center at 2555 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and the Isaac Coggs Heritage Health Center at 8200 W. Silver Spring Drive. MHSI was the first FQHC to open a retail clinic in a supermarket in October 2009 with its MHS Convenient Care Clinic, located in the Piggly Wiggly Midtown near 60th and Capitol Drive. The opening of a new dental clinic at the Isaac Coggs location is anticipated in September.
Mr. Henderson is survived by his wife Berlean Henderson, two children: son Yere of Tallahassee, Florida, daughter Kadi and granddaughter Anaya of Birmingham, Alabama. His family is comforted in knowing that Mr. Henderson’s life touched so many people. “We appreciate all the concern and words of support during this difficult time”, stated Yere Henderson.
Funeral services were held on Thursday, September 2, with additional services and burial in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was an active member of St. Matthews C.M.E. Church, where he played the congas. He loved to play golf in his limited leisure time and enjoyed listening to jazz music. In addition to his commitment to community health, he was deeply devoted to the Black community. He believed strongly in supporting Black businesses and was a regular patron at a number of Black-owned institutions such as Stella’s. His support also extended to various community events.