New pulmonologist joins MMC staff
Minden Medical Center would like the area to take a deep breath and welcome pulmonologist and intensive care unit attendant Dr. Howard Murray.
Murray is setting up private practice in Minden beginning July 5 on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., in conjunction with his established practice in Ruston.
"Pulmonology is the medical specialty that takes care of anything related to the lungs and breathing," he said. "Shortness of breath, emphysema, asthma, lung cancer, pulmonary edema."
Murray said he hopes to help people who otherwise might not want to drive to Ruston or Shreveport. He will initially bring three tests previously unavailable in the area.
1) Nocturnal oximetry, which measures oxygen absorption during sleep.
2) Six-minute walk, which is used as an evaluation in pulmonary rehabilitation.
3) Bedside spirometry, which measures lung capacity.
Murray was born in Jamaica and moved as a teenager to live with his aunt in San Diego. He first became interested in the how's and why's of breathing because of his aunt.
"I had an aunt that had a lung disease," he said. "She used to have oxygen and she coughed up yellow cruddy stuff all the time. I couldn't figure out why; I was a kid.
"As I went through biology and I studied the different systems, it added some answers to those questions lingering out there."
After completing undergraduate work at University of California San Diego, Murray attended medical school and performed his residency at Michigan State University.
"In medical school I still wasn't sure about what I wanted to do," he said. "After I did the pulmonary rotation, during the ICU component the attendant left an impression.
"You see people, you want to – 10 years from now – do what they're doing. Be not exactly like them, but somehow have that aura. I guess he impressed me enough where after residency it was a no-brainer."
Murray then moved on to a pulmonary and critical fellowship at Northwestern in Chicago, Illinois. He entered into private practice for three years in the suburbs of Chicago, ultimately ending up in Ruston.
"Part of the reason we considered the south," he said, "because my wife, she's also a professional person. We had young kids, so she took off from work but being at home is not for her. But we couldn't find anything for her where we were living."
Murray and his wife found that Ruston provided her the opportunity to pursue her research into material science and nanotechnology at Louisiana Tech, and him the opportunity to fill a need at Northern Louisiana Medical Center.
"There's a huge pulmonary need in this region of the country," he said. "So we moved and went to CHS (Ruston)."
Now Murray is pleased to be expanding his practice to Minden.
"I really would love to serve the people in the area here," he said. "No one wants to drive 40 or 50 miles to see a doctor."
Murray said if he ever isn't so busy, he'd like to hit the links for some golf. However, he said what he gets from his practice is no small thing.
"It's satisfying," he said. "You know, sometimes you'll have days that are okay, some days that are awesome.
"A few months ago I was in my office, and I looked at the people who were coming in that day and I saw this name," Murray continued. "And I started thinking back and the last time I saw her was six months prior. This is after I took care of her for two months on the respirator in ICU. She was not doing very well.
"When I saw her on that follow-up visit, she was dressed up and the trach (tracheotomy tube) was out," he continued. "She gave me a big hug and said 'thank you, doctor.' It doesn't get any better than that. If you get a million dollars, it would not be the same."