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Dr. William Marcil: Hero in the Heartland

It was our privilege to attend the March 03, 2010 Heroes in the Heartland awards luncheon sponsored by the American Red Cross Heartland Chapter.

Our friend, Dr. William Marcil, of Creighton University School of Medicine, received the Good Samaritan Award at the luncheon for his role in developing the Magis Psychiatric Clinic located at the Siena/Francis House in aid of those who are homeless and experiencing mental illness.  The Magis Clinic was created and is staffed by Creighton University medical students, and is the only free clinic providing psychiatric care and medications with no waiting time!  Recognizing the need to have their work directed by a psychiatrist, the students enlisted the volunteer services of their teacher and friend, Dr. Marcil. They made an excellent choice!   

Dr. Marcil sees patients as people; people with an illness that has interfered with their life, their dreams, their abilities, and their hopes.  He mentors his students to look beyond the illness, and see the heart of the person.  Their illness has left them friendless, homeless, and often hopeless.  Dr. Marcil encourages students to become the patient’s advocate, their hope for tomorrow.     

Two of Dr. Marcil’s students who also volunteer their Saturdays at the Magis Clinic are graduating this year.  One is going into psychiatry and will carry with her the acceptance modeled by Dr. Marcil for people with neurobiological illnesses.  The other will become an emergency room doctor.  So many people in severe crisis because of their mental illness find themselves in the emergency room, how gratifying to know they will be recognized and respected by an understanding student of Dr. Marcil. 

We are grateful to the Heartland Chapter of the Red Cross for honoring the accomplishments of Dr. Marcil.  We celebrate that stigmas were reduced at the luncheon where over 700 people attended.  The words “mental illness” were spoken aloud several times and words of hope and encouragement were used regarding these illnesses.  The Red Cross became our hero too for recognizing the importance of mental wellness.