Dr. Phillip Rozeman: a cardiologist with a ‘heart’ for the community

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

I first met Dr. Phillip Rozeman over 20 years ago when I wrote the cover story for Forum News about the Alliance for Education. Recently, I’ve seen him at various events throughout the city – including the Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s “Community Counts” press conference and the inauguration of Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux.

We met for lunch at Notini’s Restaurant in Bossier City to catch up on everything he’s been up to since our first interview all those years ago.

If Phillip A. Rozeman’s life was defined solely by his success as a cardiologist, he has enjoyed an incredibly full and prosperous life.

It would be enough to make most people satisfied – and proud.

But Dr. Rozeman is not like other people. There aren’t many people like him.

Born and raised in Shreveport, he graduated from LSU Medical School in 1979 and did his internship, residency, and fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina and then was on staff at Oak Ridge (Tennessee) Cardiology.

The soft-spoken, unassuming doctor could have started his cardiology practice anywhere he – and his wife, Alma — desired.

Halfway through his year in Tennessee, Alma wanted to come home. So, in 1985, they returned to Shreveport and Rozeman began a 30+ year experience in interventional, invasive, and noninvasive cardiology.

He co-founded Cardiovascular Consultants/Willis-Knighton Cardiology and founded the Minden Heart and Vascular Center (where he served as Chief of Staff).

At Willis-Knighton, Rozeman pioneered coronary stenting and dual-chamber pacemakers and served as both Chief of Staff of Internal Medicine and Chief of Staff of the entire Health System. He has served as president of the Shreveport Medical Society (NWLA Medical Society) and received the Louisiana State Medical Society Community Service Award, the Northwest Louisiana Medical Society Distinguished Service Award, and the American Cancer Society Distinguished Service Award.

He has been named one of “America’s Top Cardiologists” by Consumer Research Council.

Rozeman has achieved just about all there is to achieve in the field of cardiology.

For most people – and doctors – that would be enough. But Rozeman learned a lesson from his mother that influenced him to do even more.

Much more.

“She taught us: ‘Don’t be so involved in yourself – do things for other people,’” Rozeman says of his mother, who worked as a school nurse and counselor. “She took care of everybody’s problems. She taught us that life is not really worth living – it’s meaningless — if you’re just living it for yourself.”

He took that lesson to heart and, by doing so, has made an impact in the community that equals his dedication to healthcare.

But why?

“Two things that are the main drivers about my work in the community are 1) if working on this issue has the potential of creating greater opportunity for others and 2) whether this work is God’s will for my life,” explains Rozeman.

“In that regard, it has to follow the great commandment of ‘loving your neighbor as you do yourself.’”

When Rozeman wanted to create the Alliance for Education almost 25 years ago, he went to visit his friend Bob Hamm – the president/CEO of Berg, Inc., and a tireless community leader.

“That guy encouraged me to do anything,” he says of Hamm. “I went to talk to him before I started the Alliance for Education. He put in money and joined. He got me on the Board of the (Greater Shreveport) Chamber of Commerce and the Board of the Louisiana Committee of 100.”

That was just the beginning.

Rozeman has served as a member of multiple governor and legislative commissions on healthcare and education, is past chairman of Blueprint Louisiana and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Council for a Better Louisiana.

He is founder of both Alliance for Education – created to increase community involvement in public education in northwest Louisiana – and Shreveport Bossier Imperative as well as co-founder of Shreveport Bossier Business Alliance for Higher Education and Magnolia School of Excellence Charter School.

When asked where – as a practicing cardiologist – he finds the time to dedicate so much effort into the community, Rozeman explains:

“I try not to waste any time. I organize my mind, take a project at a time. I try to get something done then move on (to the next thing).”

The “next thing” is helping bring Louisiana Key Academy to Shreveport. The charter school, which will focus on best practices to help children who have difficulty reading because of dyslexia, will open in the fall at the former Arthur Circle Elementary School.

Dr. Laura Cassidy (wife of Sen. Bill Cassidy), who co-founded Louisiana Key Academy in Baton Rouge and is bringing the concept here, describes it as “a community of trained, knowledgeable caring professionals whose mission is to unlock the potential of dyslexic children.”

“It will start with first through fourth grade in the fall,” says Rozeman, “and probably add a grade every year. The thought is to definitely go through middle school and, at some point, think about high school.”

With the realization of a charter school for dyslexic children opening in Shreveport, Rozeman can begin thinking about his next “project.”

“I want to potentially do a podcast on medical advances,” says Rozeman, who currently does a weekly podcast called Education Checkup on KTBS. “This is a huge medical community. There is a lot of expertise in healthcare here and I want to communicate that to the people here.”

Rozeman does all that he does for the simple reason that he wants to make his community a better place.

“I was born and raised in Shreveport,” he says. “I love Shreveport. It’s always been good to me and I want to leave it a better place.”

To accomplish that, Rozeman sees his role as that of a facilitator.

“I believe when you get people together and they begin to talk about these things, you begin to have some movement on things,” he says. “If it’s not something I’m interested in or that I’m doing, maybe I know somebody who would be interested and I can get people together.”

Rozeman does all of this in his “spare” time. He doesn’t play golf, fish, or hunt. His hobbies are visiting his grandkids (each of his two daughters lives in Texas and has two children) as often as possible, getting to Los Angeles to visit his son (every six months or so), watching college football and March Madness, reading, and going out to eat every night with his wife.

“I consider the things I do in the community as fun,” he says. “It’s like a hobby.”

Once more, I ask where he finds the time for all of his “hobbies.”

“I start with the premise ‘just say yes where my God-given talents fit,’” says Rozeman, who credits his long-time co-workers for ‘basically taking care of me.’

“When I am true to this, there always seems to be the time and energy to help.”

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com