Dear Dr. Kruger, Thank You and Rest Easy
We think it is safe to say that the entire New Orleans community will deeply miss Dr. Ellen Kruger. If you were lucky enough to have her as a physician or friend, then you already know the absolute magic that was Ellen. As an OB-GYN, Dr. Kruger had the immense responsibility of bringing new life into this world. She did this with the deepest love, sharpest wit and utmost skill, always carefully navigating the safety of both baby and mother. Heck, Dr. Kruger was even capable of making you laugh during labor. Her bedside manner was simply unrivaled, be it during office visits, pre-op or hospital rounds. Her compassion and empathy made her uniquely suited to navigate a family’s tremendous sorrow following a miscarriage, loss or upsetting diagnosis. Dr. Kruger was genuinely adept at holding your hand, literally and figuratively, during the lows of life. She gave medical advice with such confident conviction that you just knew you better listen to her because – while she always offered options and believed in true autonomy for women – she also knew what you needed to hear. Dr. Kruger even made pap smears comfortable, always remembering to ask about the kids and work while elbow deep in the work she so loved.
We hope that other New Orleans moms will leave their Dear Dr. Kruger moments below in comments.
From Lydia Lynn
Dear Dr. Kruger,
When you entered the room, it was almost as if time stopped, and I was the only patient on your schedule that day. Thank you for navigating me through my pregnancy and making me feel so important and heard. I have this image in my mind of you up in heaven. You’re riding a beautiful horse and drinking a glass a wine, and all the angels are smiling big.
My heart goes out to your precious family and friends who you have left behind. I hope they understand how much your patients loved and adored you, too.
Thank you for everything.
From Jessica Deidling
Dr. Kruger was my OB for three babies and performed my hysterectomy a week before she took extended leave for treatment. I am eternally grateful that she was the person guiding me through some of the biggest moments in life full of joy, fear, loss, and acceptance. She always took time to listen and connect with me and she made it a personal mission to be present at my third delivery after having had to miss the first two. Sometimes you were in her waiting room for a pretty long time, but you always knew it was because she was also listening to her other patients and making sure she was there for their deliveries, too. I loved looking at the pictures of all the babies she had delivered while waiting on her exam room walls and wondering what those babies looked like now as kids and teenagers. I’m now thinking about all the kids that were brought into the world by Dr. Kruger and the moms she supported through that process and how many walls that would take to fill. I’m so grateful I had her for these big moments in my life and I know so many others are as well.
From Mary Furman Shay
I had the privilege of being Dr. Kruger’s patient and there was truly no one like her. Her energy was kind and patient and unrelenting and fierce all at once and she was able to command a room and put everyone at ease simultaneously. She remembered the small things and made sure to ask me about them whenever I saw her. Later, when all of the physician notes that had previously been private were released, I learned that she had written down my interests, our shared love of horses and mutual friends in order to talk to me about them at my appointments. She had done the same for a friend of mine who was also her patient, writing down a note about a bagel shop they both liked. This was the level of care she had for each one of her patients. She always took her time and answered any and all questions and never seemed rushed. When I was done having children I felt sadness at having to switch to yearly appointments; seeing her only once per year didn’t seem like nearly enough. The community has lost such a gift with her passing. My heart breaks for those friends and family who loved her. I can’t imagine the grief they are bearing when I feel such sorrow for losing the few minutes per year that I had with her.
From Missy Matte
Dear Dr. Kruger,
Thank you for showing me how it is done, how to love your life, your patients and all your people. Each day you convincingly greeted the day with energy and fire. You made everyone feel important and heard. I’ll miss your candor and no nonsense attitude, your trailing cape, and quippy remarks. You will be missed but will continue to inspire.
Thank you, Missy Matte
From Ashley Angelico
My absolutely favorite moment with Dr. Kruger that sums her up in a nutshell happened during a routine pregnancy visit. I was pregnant with my third child in as many years, and I was freaking tired. I was a full-time working mom, chasing toddlers in diapers, and my husband was traveling non-stop. For some reason, as if I was at Church on a Sunday, I confessed to her that I had been drinking Diet Coke. I don’t even know why I did this; it just flew out of my mouth. She slowly turned around from her seat at the computer, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “if Diet Coke in moderation harms fetuses, we’d know it by now. Drink the fucking Diet Coke.” I was already in love with her, but it was that witty confidence that made her such a special doctor and human.
From Kristine White
Twelve years ago when I started working for Ochsner, I made the switch to Ochsner’s OB-GYN department. My first ever appointment was scheduled with a physician named Dr. Kruger. Little did I know, this first appointment was the first of a long relationship as a patient and colleague. Dr. Kruger welcomed me to this visit with a smile. She talked to me about her family and she connected with me about living on the Westbank and how she worked on the Westbank for years before starting at Ochsner.
I saw her regularly over the years as all women do and was so thrilled when I got to tell her I was expecting my first. I could give you countless instances during my first pregnancy alone that Dr. Kruger eased my anxiety.
When it came time to see Dr. Kruger for my second son, you would have sworn I was telling her that her own grandchild was on the way! She was grinning ear to ear and was thrilled to be the one to deliver my second child! Now, this is a doctor who has delivered hundreds of babies and she was on Cloud 9 to deliver MY baby, my 2nd baby.
After my c-section in 2021, I brought my newborn into the office for what ended up being my final visit with Dr. Kruger. I gave her pictures of both of my boys, as she always asks us to do, and we talked about life with two kids and a little about the future of OB-GYN on the Westbank. She had high aspirations and big plans for the direction she wanted to take it in as she complimented the doctors and staff saying they were the “best of the best” and deserved a beautiful space to shine in. After our extended visit, she hugged my little one, and asked if it was ok to hug me. Of course it now feels like the tightest hug of my life. On my way out she said, “I’ll see you around soon! Maybe for number 3…?” And with a wink and laugh she waved goodbye as she knocked on her next patient’s door…
From Kasey Gignilliat
About three years ago I discovered I was pregnant and weeks later I was told the terrible news that I had to have an emergency hysterectomy and it had to happen within the next 24 hours. Panicked … sad … scared … all the feelings. I admittedly reached out to a friend who works at Ochsner and said I needed the best of the best OB because I was scared to death. She said without hesitation, “Dr. Kruger.” I went straight to her office.
To say she was amazing is truly an understatement. She said all the right things to a mother who is about to lose her baby and undergo a surprise surgery. She had this way of making me feel like we were in this together. She was so compassionate and cried along with me. She preformed the surgery two days later and got me safely back home to my family, which she promised she would.
I had one follow up appointment with her. It was a few weeks before Mardi Gras. She was very excited about that, and I was telling her I was going to have to sit this one out. I was still really sore. She said she would love to see me out there for Muses. She was a part of this fun horse crew. She said, “if you see me call out my horse’s name not mine because that’s when I really know you know me.” I felt connected to her. Like we together had survived this terrible time in my life.
Weeks went by and I felt strong enough to head to dinner with my girlfriends and catch Muses. After dinner, we walked to the route and immediately saw all these horses. Absolutely no way I thought I’d actually see her. I pushed past the crowd, I walked out into the street and yelled her horse’s name. Dr. Kruger and her horse came over to me and she leaned down and said, “I’m so happy you are here! You look great!” She just lit up my whole world.
She handed me a decorated horseshoe. She trodded off and I stood there and tears started rolling down my cheeks. It was a mix of happy and sad tears, but I had this overwhelming feeling of “we did it…we are here having a wonderful time together in this wild place.” That was the last time I saw her. She was a part of my life for such a short period of time but such an important part. My heart goes out to her family and her close friends. I know they will truly feel this loss and grief. She was amazing and a true gift to me and my family.
From Allison Hoffman
Oh, how you will be missed by so many. You were there for me when I had all of the stressful questions, concerns and needs of a teen into my college years. I can even remember flying home for my appointment with you one semester because I knew I’d get the care I needed and my anxiety immediately calmed.
As I made my way through my twenties, you became even more a part of my life, guiding me through two pregnancies. The first one came with high risk measures at the onset and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. You weren’t worried even the slightest; you took every phone call, made extra time in each appointment, and called in all the necessary scripts at a moment’s notice. You delivered my son with the biggest smile and made me feel like he and I were the most important people in our world. And you took care of thousands of us!!
Fast forward two years and you were beaming with excitement to announce we’d be scheduling my daughter’s birth on Halloween so she’d have a party for life! We had all the candy upon arrival – no diabetes this time!
We were so excited to see each other at the Blue Crab a few years ago. Your infectious smile seeing my two children not so tiny anymore was so genuine. You had so much pride knowing you helped bring them into this world.
I also have immeasurable gratitude for your right hand nurse at the time, Tanya. We became so much more than your typical nurse/patient dynamic; she was my close friend, navigating pregnancies together with you by our sides.
The women of New Orleans who were lucky enough to have you in their lives are forever grateful. You will be missed dearly.
Hannah Ha Jordan
I couldn’t have asked for a better guide through pregnancy than Dr. Kruger. She alleviated my concerns without ever being condescending, and above all, she empowered me to feel that my body was fully capable of childbirth and motherhood. I’m horrible at taking compliments, but I’ll never forget Dr. Kruger calling me an “iron woman of the L&D.” And I just know that the fortitude and strength I felt because of Dr. Kruger as I brought Kateri into this world has manifested itself in the strong little lady that is my daughter.
Dr. Kruger was such a positive light and an amazing doctor. When I was in need of an OB-GYN and asked some residents who had trained at Ochsner for anyone they recommended, they unanimously said her name. That was how well-respected and admired she was by all. We were so lucky to have her deliver our three babies (including twins safely without a c-section). I always loved seeing the bulletin boards in her exam rooms covered with cheerful photos of her, the babies she delivered, and their parents. I hope her sincere warmth, joy for life, and joy for bringing new life into the world lives on with the residents she helped train.