. The Loss of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic Visionary Founder - New Orleans Musicians' Clinic

March 1, 2018

The Loss of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic Visionary Founder

It is with great sadness that the NOMC&AF board and staff announce the loss of our inspirational founder, Dr. Jack McConnell, in Hilton Head, SC. on Feb 8, 2018

Jack B. McConnell, M.D.

(1925-2018)  

 

Dr. Jack McConnell fell in love with traditional jazz during two stints working as a doctor headquartered in New Orleans. After suffering two bouts with tuberculosis following his medical training, Dr. McConnell chose to go into research. He went on to become a noted scientist widely known for his medical contributions who, before his retirement, served as corporate director of advanced technology at Johnson & Johnson. 

It was at Lederle Laboratories that he co-invented the tine test, used for the detection of tuberculosis, and participated in the early stages of the development of the polio vaccine. He then joined McNeil Laboratories where he directed the development of Tylenol tablets. Subsequently, he moved to the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson as Corporate Director for Advanced Technology. In this capacity, he traveled the world in search of new healthcare products and technology. During his time at Johnson & Johnson he directed the program for the first commercial MRI system in the United States.

In 1987, Dr. McConnell helped Sen. Pete Domenici write the bill authorizing the Human Genome Project. He also worked closely with J. Craig Venter and the Institute for Genomic Research on the business and ethical issues associated with genomic study.

After his retirement he founded Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) – which currently has 89 member clinics in 28 states providing health care to the uninsured and medically underserved. Aside from being a brilliant physician and noted philanthropist, Jack was a talented raconteur and performer.

In 1996, a magic day at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival led to the founding of the Musicians’ Clinic.

 

Founding the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic: It all began at a Phish Concert

 

 
Dr. Jack McConnell and his son Page McConnell on stage
In 1996, a magic day during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival when Jack McConnell came to hear his son’s band, Phish, perform led to the founding of the Musicians’ Clinic. While he was in town, Jack had an epiphany.

McConnell mused that the birth city of American music must no longer be an early grave for its performers.

 

 
Dr. Jack McConnell crafted the NOMC with Johann Bultman to create a collaboration with LSU Health Sciences Center, Daughters of Charity, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and WWOZ.
Soon after, Dr. McConnell enlisted his friend, Sybil Morial, to help familiarize him with the New Orleans music scene.

Months later, with the help of a coalition of local music advocates and medical professionals through the LSU Health Sciences Center, Dr. McConnell set his sights on creating an innovative “safety net” health care resource for the musicians of New Orleans.

 

 
Watch Jack’s last and is considered his finest performance of his signature song “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” with Phish from 2010 in North Charleston, SC.
In 1998, he founded the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic alongside Johann and Bethany Bultman, Robert Marier, M.D., dean of the LSU Medical School and Mervin Trail, Chancellor of LSUHSC. 

Today, New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic has provided health care to more than 2,700 musicians, performers and culture bearers. We are the only clinic like ours in the USA and on May 1, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary of our vital service to the New Orleans music community.

 

In his memory, we ask that you please keep his spirit alive by following the words Jack’s father passed to him:

 

“What have you done today to uplift another person in need?”

 

During the Fall of 2018, we will be organizing a second line in New Orleans for our beloved Jack and his family as we fulfill his wishes to have his ashes interred in the Musicians Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.

 

More Information and Ways to Support:

Retired Executive Gave Up Golf to Create a Free Medical Clinic at Hilton Head, S.C. – The Wall Street Journal, February 2018 

Read more about the History and Founding of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic

Make a donation in memory of Dr. Jack McConnell

 

 

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