Like all physicians, former Texas Medical Association President Hugh Lamensdorf, MD, made notes when he saw his patients. But the Fort Worth urologist, who passed away at age 82 in October, took this standard practice a bit further.
“Most of us [in our notes] say something like ‘alert and oriented, white male,’” said F.H. “Trey” Moore, MD, one of Dr. Lamensdorf’s former partners. “His was, ‘horn-rimmed glasses; curly, long, grey hair and goatee; very intelligent.’ He would in a couple of sentences describe a person, and after you read it, there was no doubt about who that patient was on their return.”
Those notes often mentioned whether the patient’s wife was having a baby or some other life change. The collection of nonmedical details went to the heart of why Dr. Lamensdorf was such a caring physician, says Ira Hollander, MD, another partner.
“It wasn’t so he could artificially seem like he was interested in these patients,” Dr. Hollander said. “He really was interested in them, and he wanted to make sure that if it was important to the patient, that he was kept up to date on it as time went by.”
Raised in the small town of Shelby, Miss., Dr. Lamensdorf came to Fort Worth in 1968 after being stationed there as a captain in the U.S. Air Force. He and his wife Louise decided to stay, and he soon joined the practice that would become Urology Associates of North Texas.
Dr. Lamensdorf immersed himself in organized medicine, becoming president of Tarrant County Medical Society, president of the Texas Urology Society, and an American Medical Association delegate. In 1996, Dr. Lamensdorf asked fellow Fort Worth physician Sue Bailey, MD, to run his campaign to become president of TMA after he had served as chairman of TEXPAC, TMA’s political arm.
“He was friendly, he had a ready smile, he loved to laugh, but he also could discuss important issues to rival anyone. [As president], he was always very matter of fact, and straight to the point, and did not suffer fools gladly,” said Dr. Bailey, who later served as TMA president.
During his term, TMA successfully sued to keep HMOs and others from refusing to cover patients with disabilities who require expensive treatment. TMA also pushed what is now the Texas Medical Board to adopt rules designed to ensure that practicing physicians — as opposed to nonphysician entities — maintain control of medical decisions and policies.
Dr. Lamensdorf “never shirked from a leadership position,” says former office manager Barbara Hinds, and that included leading his practice. An avid reader, Dr. Lamensdorf was the office expert on the latest medical procedures and techniques.
“Even though he was the oldest member of our group, he was always thinking of new ways to approach the practice of medicine,” Dr. Moore said.
Outside the office, Dr. Lamensdorf worked as an assistant professor at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and served as president of his synagogue in Fort Worth. Occasionally, he even worked as maître d’ at his wife’s restaurant, Bistro Louise.
Despite these and other time commitments, he remained involved with his family — and not just his wife, daughter, and three sons. He kept close ties with extended family.
The inquisitive nature that led Dr. Lamensdorf to sketch out his patient’s personal qualities also led him to become an expert gardener and bird watcher. He kept three pairs of binoculars — one in the office, one at home, and one in his car.
Dr. Lamensdorf’s ability to not just juggle all his interests but to excel at them left his colleagues wondering how he did it.
“It seemed like he could stretch time somehow,” Dr. Moore said.
Dr. Lamensdorf retired from medicine in 2003, struggling with diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis in the years before he passed away.
“He was one of the giants in Texas medicine,” said Dr. Bailey. “He’ll be greatly missed.”
Tex Med. 2019;115(2):48
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