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This profile was last updated on 12/30/03  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Merrill O. Hines

Wrong Dr. Merrill O. Hines?

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Fellow
    Ochsner Clinic


  • Tulane University School of Medicine
  • Millsaps College
Web References
Merrill Odom Hines, MD: The Right Fellow for the Job, 30 Dec 2003 [cached]
Merrill Hines, the Medical Director of the Clinic at the time, had to deliver the message to Dr. Ochsner.
Dr. Hines owed his career to Dr. Ochsner, and it was a difficult task.
Dr. Hines waited a couple of days and then made another visit.He reminded Dr. Ochsner that the Clinic rules had been passed many years earlier by agreement of the founders, including himself."If you don't retire, we'll tear up the agreement," Hines said, "but I want you to know that if that happens, I have no alternative but to resign myself."Dr. Hines ripped the page in two.
No one was more devoted to the success of the Ochsner Clinic than Merrill Hines.His 15 years as Medical Director and 10 years as President or Chairman were the most prosperous and productive years of the Clinic and Foundation.He presided over the transition to the second generation of Ochsner physicians as one after another of the founders and original staff retired."There were tough decisions to make," said Dr. Hines, "I ran it with an iron hand because I felt I had to-and lots of people didn't like it.
Merrill Odom Hines was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on November 17, 1909.Despite his humble upbringing in rural Mississippi, Dr. Hines was determined to enter medical school.After graduating from Millsaps College, he won a coveted scholarship from the Commonwealth Fund, which allowed him to enter Tulane University Medical School, where he studied under Alton Ochsner and earned his medical degree in 1936 graduating as Class President (1, p143).After an internship and surgical residency at Baroness Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he returned to Mississippi to fulfil his obligation to the Commonwealth Foundation by practicing as staff surgeon at Tylertown Hospital until 1944.
Dr. Hines served in General George Patton's Third Army during World War II as a battalion surgeon during the campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, and the D-Day landing in Italy.He contracted amebiasis with secondary pericarditis and was sent to New Orleans to recuperate in what proved to be the turning point of his life.He planned to rest a few months and then move to Chattanooga to practice.Instead, Dr. Hines spent a year refreshing his surgical skills as a fellow under the tutelage of Dr. Alton Ochsner at the recently formed Ochsner Clinic.
As the Medical Director of the Ochsner Clinic, Dr. Hines presided over a major expansion of the group practice, the expansion of the Ochsner Foundation Hospital, and the consolidation of all Ochsner activities into a single campus in the early 1960s.He initiated the expansion of both Hospital and Clinic, and the staff doubled in size under his watch to about 120 physicians.He also continued to maintain an active clinical and surgical practice and was very involved in the educational programs of the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation.He took a major role in championing the cause of the group practice, serving as an effective spokesman on its behalf.His efforts included a term on the Board of Trustees of the American Group Practice Association from 1966 to 1970.
Dr. Hines also recognized the need for providing formal education in management for the physician leaders of group practices.After the creation of the American Academy of Medical Directors, he was selected to serve on the advisory panel for the development of Physician in Management Courses under a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.As a recognized medical statesman, he was invited by President Lyndon Johnson to be present in the signing of the Medicare Amendments to the Social Security Act in 1965, and he served as a member of the Social Security Administration's Health Insurance Benefit Advisory Committee.After proctology and colon and rectal surgery became an independent specialty in 1949, Dr. Hines was elected President of the American Proctologic Society (now the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery) and served as the President of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (1, p145).In 1983, Dr. Hines was selected to be the 46th recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the American Medical Association.This award is one the most coveted honors bestowed on a practitioner of the healing arts (earlier recipients included Dr. Rudolph Matas, Dr. Michael DeBakey and Dr. Alton Ochsner.) After retirement, Dr. Hines continued fundraising and planning activities for the Foundation as Honorary Chairman of the Board.
After a very prolific career, Merrill Hines died on December 16, 1999, at the age of 90.
Dr. Hines became involved in the management of the Clinic in 1954 when he was appointed Assistant Medical Director under Guy Caldwell, whom he succeeded in 1960 (1p146).The years that Dr. Hines led the institution were veryproductive and successful.
Dr. Hines also demanded quality.While he cultivated and enlarged the physician staff, he never flinched from discharging those who did not meet his high standards.
A surgeon who had been trained in prestigious institutions and who appeared highly qualified joined the staff.He had known the partners for years and was personally popular.In a short while he became influential in clinic affairs.But at the same time his performance in the operating room failed to meet the institutions' standards.
Finally Hines forced a showdown.He obtained signatures from an overwhelming number of the clinic's doctors, who said they would vote to oust the surgeon from the partnership under a bylaw that provides for expulsion by three-fourths' majority.The man resigned.
"It was the most difficult decision I ever had to make, and at the same time was the most important one," Hines said."I didn't see how we could continue in business if we allowed an unqualified surgeon to operate, no matter who he was.When we admit a patient to our Clinic or Hospital, we must guarantee that the patient will be in competent hands" (1, p150).
No one, including the founders, was as intensely dedicated to the Ochsner institutions as Merrill Hines.
The Foundation trustees created the unique position of Honorary Chairman of the Board, allowing Dr. Hines to continue fundraising and planning."
Dr. Hines was tall, with an impressive presence and a strong voice.He was not subtle.
Dr. William Brannan, urologist and former Chairman of the Ochsner Board of Trustees, gave us some of his impressions of Dr. Merrill Hines:
Merrill Hines was a very good, knowledgeable physician and a dedicated and capable surgeon.He was also knowledgeable of local politics and was very close to Dr. Ochsner, Dr. Burns and the other founders-he was pretty much their spokesman.When he was the Medical Director of the Clinic, I was the first Chairman of the Board elected by the partnership.Dr. Hines always respected my opinion and the opinions of those who came after me in that position.He could be very blunt as well as cordial and accommodating and gave many people the impression that he was rather domineering-he was not reticent about criticizing people.That's not all bad, but it could be irritating at times.But nobody wanted to cross him.He could get mad, depending on the situation and what he was being asked to do, but he was always a loyal supporter of those who were honest, hard working and reliable.
Merrill Hines spent 3 years in Tylertown, Mississippi, as a country doctor and surgeon, fulfilling his obligation to the Commonwealth Fund.As a country doctor, he learned "what it was to bring off a difficult delivery by lamplight in a sharecropper's cabin in a cotton field" (1p145), he learned compassion, and he realized that there was more to medicine than money and fame.These principles guided his long career as a physician.At Ochsner, Dr. Hines found what he was looking for and abandoned his plan for practicing in Chattanooga.He told Alton Ochsner, "Something tremendous is happening here and I want to be a part of it" (2).He was right, and he became a fundamental part of the success the institution enjoys today.
Dr. Hines disagreed, "No, it hasn't been hard on me. It's been a privilege to grow with Ochsner.
We believe that Merrill Hines was "the right fellow for the job."
2. Hoffman YN, The Tall Mississippian: Merrill Odom Hines.Jackson, MS. 1979;
Hinesrelease, 22 July 1999 [cached]
The ribbon cutting will be attended by Dr. Hines' sister and brother-in-law Dr. and Mrs. Bill Davis and Dr. Hines' daughter Mrs. Margaret Hines Godfrey.
The ribbon cutting will be attended by Dr. Hines' sister and brother-in-law Dr. and Mrs. Bill Davis and Dr. Hines' daughter Mrs. Margaret Hines Godfrey.
Ochsner Chief Executive Officer Dr. Patrick Quinlan will announce the opening and Dr. John Ochsner and Dr. Frank Riddick will offer a brief recollection of working along side Dr. Hines and his achievements.
Dr. Merrill Hines began his history with Ochsner as one of the first fellows to begin their training in General Surgery under founder Dr. Alton Ochsner.
Hines served as the Medical Director of Ochsner Clinic for 15 years (1960-1975), President of Ochsner Clinic from 1968-1974, and Chairman of the Ochsner Foundation Board from 1974-1980.He is most noted for guiding the development of Ochsner Clinic in its formative years, coordinating the construction of the clinic building as well as the consolidation of all the facilities on the Jefferson Highway Campus.Hines' dedication to upholding Ochsner's standard of quality care and innovative leadership led the Clinic through many prosperous years.
One of the most telling stories of Hines' devotion to Ochsner and it success occurred in 1967 when Hines had the difficult task of informing Dr. Alton Ochsner, his mentor, that he could no longer perform surgery.At the time, Clinic rules dictated that at age 70 a physician had to retire from performing surgery.The difficult message was met with expected resistance.Out of respect, Hines agreed to tear up the agreement, but as a result he would have no alternative but to resign himself.
Dr. Hines was a leader at Ochsner, as well as a major force in the medical industry.He was president of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.A member of the American Medical Association for 18 years, he was a recipient of the AMA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award (1983.)
Merrill O. Hines was born on a farm in Jackson, Mississippi in 1909.He graduated from Millsaps College during the depression and attended Tulane University School of Medicine on a scholarship from the Commonwealth Fund.He later repaid this debt by initiating a practice in rural Tylertown, Mississippi until he was called for duty in the U.S. Army during World War II.Hines served as a battalion surgeon in North Africa, Sicily, and in Italy under General George Patton's Third Army.
Edgar Burns, 21 Aug 2003 [cached]
When Dr. Merrill Hines, Medical Director of the Clinic, was in automobile accident, the founders realized that in case of a serious accident there was nobody to replace him.
Dr. Riddick eventually succeeded Dr. Hines serving as Medical Director of the Ochsner Clinic and, later, as President of the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation.
CityBusiness Daily Update, 13 Jan 2004 [cached]
Ochsner officials named the new surgery center after Dr. Merrill Hines, a 15-year medical director who helped establish Ochsner's department of colon and rectal surgery.
DJC-GP.COM: Ochsner Clinic opens $9M surgery center provided by Daily Journal of Commerce, 15 Jan 2004 [cached]
Ochsner officials named the new surgery center after Dr. Merrill Hines, a 15-year medical director who helped establish Ochsner's department of colon and rectal surgery.
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