Dan Henderson ’85: Providing Accurate Results
Boarding schools all across the country worked behind the scenes last spring and summer to determine if they would be able to open for in-person learning for the fall term. Mercersburg was no exception, as the school’s entire community (including its alumni network and parents), worked through the challenges of safely reopening the school during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was during this time that Mercersburg received a call from Dan Henderson ’85.
Henderson is vice president of strategic partnerships with Physician Core Care, a Pittsburgh-based health care consulting company specializing in lab management. “We take a provider, like a school, and conduct a thorough needs-analysis process,” says Henderson. “We then match that client with a lab that best meets their needs. That’s how we partnered with QualiTox Laboratories for the testing that Mercersburg required for its students and faculty.” QualiTox is a specialty lab in Pittsburgh, one of 80 labs across the country with which PCC is contracted, and has worked with PCC for almost a decade in the toxicology space.
Rick Hendrickson, the school’s dean of experiential programs who co-chaired Storm Watch (the school's campus safety initiative task force) with fellow longtime employee Jenn Flanagan Bradley ’99, says that Henderson spent hours in important discussions with the school about COVID-19 mitigation strategies and testing options.
“At the time, everything with COVID-19 was a maze of confusion,” Hendrickson says. “We agreed that Dan and his company could help us with our pre-entry and entry testing, and he personally guaranteed that he would make it happen.”
Henderson and his team researched the needs of the school, put together timelines, and made sure everything lined up. It was crucial for all parties to agree on the protocols for testing, how many test kits were needed, and the turnaround time on receiving the results. “I was impressed with how hard everyone worked to make this happen,” Henderson says. “There was a collective passion that everyone wanted students back on campus and no one wanted to let them down.”
No one was prouder of the work than Alex Strahan, QualiTox’s chief executive officer. “Alex moved heaven and earth to make sure [Mercersburg] was not left out of the testing timeline and to ensure that the school had a quick turnaround time for results,” Henderson says.
“In these difficult times, we are proud to work with Mercersburg Academy through our partnership with Physician Core Care,” Strahan says. “We tailored a specific and efficient testing plan for their facility and ensured results back to the school in under 24 hours. This continued local partnership for the testing of students and faculty allows the school to remain open—but most importantly, safe—during this pandemic.”
Because of the school’s connection with Henderson and his willingness to reach out to offer a service in the school's time of need, all students, faculty, and staff were tested upon entry to the school in September and re-tested after the mandatory quarantine period. Henderson even traveled to Mercersburg for the first day of testing in September to make sure everything went as planned. The school has continued its relationship with both PCC and QualiTox.
“I got to know Dan much better during this process and, at one point, asked him about his commitment to the school,” Hendrickson says. “His answer was simple—Mercersburg changed his life. It brought tears to both of our eyes, and was a moment of sharing that I won't forget. Dan exemplifies the spirit of being True Blue in a way that touched my heart and furthered my faith in the people that are a part of this great school of ours.”
When Henderson was asked what it meant to give back to his alma mater, he reiterated that the school had changed his life, adding, “When I came to Mercersburg, I had to learn how to study for the first time, and I noticed that a lot of my peers put in the time and energy to focus on their school work and were disciplined on the field. It humbled me and I am grateful that the school gave me the tools I needed to succeed in my adult life as well as friends that I am still in touch with today. Offering my company to help during this pandemic is my small way of repaying the school for all it gave to me.”