Rivers Frederick Community

Physician House Advising Faculty

Dr. Leah Finkel

Dr. Leah Finkel, MD is an assistant professor in pediatric emergency medicine and the Director of Pediatrics in the department of Emergency Medicine at UIH.  She received her MD from University of Illinois and completed her post graduate training at the University of Chicago for her pediatric residency and pediatric emergency medicine fellowship. She later completed an ultrasound fellowship at UIC.  She is passionate in discovering novel uses for POCUS with her pediatric patients in the emergency department and medical student and resident education. She and her husband have 4 kids that keep them quite busy and entertained outside of work.  She loves finding new places to explore both locally and around the world.

Dr. Matt Witthaus

Dr. Matt Witthaus completed medical school at the University of Missouri, residency in family medicine at Saint Louis University, and a fellowship in academic family medicine at Saint Louis University. He has been on faculty at UIC since 2018, and his clinical interests include LGBTQ health, including gender affirming care, as well as behavioral health and chronic disease management. Outside of work, he and his husband enjoy traveling, soaking in the arts, and spending time with friends and family.

Rivers Frederick, MD (1874-1954)

In 1897, Frederick became the first African American to graduate from the new Chicago College of Physicians and Surgeons (UIC) with a medical degree. He then won a highly competitive 18-month scholarship to the John B. Murphy Surgical Clinic at Cook County Hospital in Chicago,based on his examination scores. in 1899, Frederick returned to Louisiana because of his”growing desire to return to the place of my birth in order to help train young Negroes for adequate service in the growing field of medical practice, badly needed among our people.” At the time, it was rare for black physicians to return South, but Frederick joined the less than 50 African American physicians in Louisiana who cared for the state’s Black population of half a million. In 1908, Frederick accepted the post of Chief Surgeon at Sarah Goodridge Hospital in New Orleans and in 1932 took up the position of Chief of Surgery at the Flint-Goodridge Hospital at Dillard University.He played an instrumental role in the formation of the local NAACP Branch and remained a life member. Despite his great accomplishments, for many years Frederick was denied membership to both the American College of Surgeons and the International College of Surgeons because of racism.


1923- Frederick became one of the founders of the black-owned Louisiana Life Insurance Company, known today as the Universal Life Insurance Company. Frederick filled the roles of a board member, secretary, vice-president, and president

1934- Frederick became the first vice-president of the National Medical Association

Award of Merit for Outstanding Service- The American Cancer Society

1949- Honorary presidency of the New Orleans Urban League

Full Bio