June 17, 2008

ER Doctor Was Patients’ Favorite

By Melissa M. Scallan, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Jun. 17--Dr. Charles "Catfish" Allen had a reputation from a young age of having a hard head -- hence the nickname -- but he also was known for the special care he gave his patients.

Allen, 78, spent more than 40 years practicing medicine, and 30 of those were at the emergency room at Singing River Hospital. When he left there to work at a clinic the hospital operated in Grand Bay, Ala., his patients followed him.

Allen died Sunday at his home in Moss Point.

Friends and coworkers recalled his tenacity for medicine and the way he treated patients like family.

In fact, the connection he established with patients became a problem in the emergency room, said Dr. Karl Horn, who helped set up the department at Singing River when it opened in 1967.

"He gave us a little bit of trouble in the beginning because he was so intense," Horn said, chuckling. "People flocked to him, and he spent a considerable amount of time with them. We were not supposed to see the same patients again, but they loved him and kept coming back."

Horn graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and was among the group of doctors who opened the emergency room at Singing River in 1967. In 1997, he went to work at the Grand Bay Clinic.

Dale Gannon, who worked with Allen for nearly 10 years at the clinic, said patients and staff adored him.

"He never got down about anything," she recalled. "He had some wonderful stories to tell, and the patients absolutely loved him. They thought of him as family, and he thought of them as family.

"There were people who came to the clinic who said they had been seeing Dr. Allen for years, which you don't normally see with emergency room doctors."

Allen also loved to read, Gannon said, and often would print out articles and bring them to other employees in the clinic.

"He was very much loved," she said. "I don't think you would find anybody who knew him who didn't love him."


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