Thirteen retired members of our medical staff gathered recently to be recognized for their contributions through the years.
“This is a celebration,” said Bill Considine, president and CEO. “We could tell stories about life’s journeys through the work and service of all of you. We couldn’t do the work we’re doing today without you. I’m committed to making sure we continue to live up to your expectations.”
The idea for the celebration was the brainchild of Dr. P. Cooper White, medical staff president, who says the medical staff was looking for an opportunity to recognize some notable retirements that have recently occurred.
“We’ve had several long-standing physicians retire recently like Dr. Robert Stone and Dr. Haynes Robinson and this was a way for us to honor all who could attend,” said Dr. White. “Akron Children’s is a wonderful and successful institution that is built on the backs of the men and women who have served the hospital so well.”
Dr. Ananth Murthy, director of plastic and reconstructive surgery, welcomed the opportunity to catch up with 3 of his mentors, retired plastic surgeons Drs. James Lewis, Michael Parker and James Lehman. Dr. Murthy, who was a medical student and general surgery resident in Akron before relocating to Boston for his fellowship and later to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., says the 3 of them are the reason he returned to Akron to set up practice.
“I learned a lot from these 3, not just about medicine, but also about practice management and how to treat patients, colleagues and students,” he said.
Dr. Lehman says knowing the plastic surgery department was in the more-than-capable hands of Drs. Murthy and Niyant Patel was the reason he was finally able to retire in 2014 after practicing at Akron Children’s for 43 years.
“I could retire in a relaxed state knowing the department was in good hands,” he said.
For Dr. Lehman, retirement hasn’t slowed down the avid downhill skier and world traveler. He is very active in the Rotary and regularly does global health work in South America, including performing surgeries.
Retired pediatrician Dr. Ellen Kempf has also kept busy with humanitarian work through our Office of Pediatric Global Health, most recently caring for a 2-year-old Haitian girl with a heart defect.
“I’m still linked to Akron Children’s because of Haiti and my husband’s (Dr. Jeff Kempf) role,” she said. “We’ve brought 10 kids back here for heart surgeries and they stay with us. I’m their round-the-clock caregiver which means comforting them, feeding them, taking them to doctor’s appointments and spending nights in the intensive care unit with them post-surgery. I’m basically their surrogate mom.”
“If we tallied the years of service of the physicians in the room, the number would be huge,” said Dr. White, who hopes to see the event became a biannual celebration.
Dr. Chris Van Devere, former division director of psychiatry who retired in 2003, and who helped design the original behavioral health unit, reminisced about visiting the hospital a few years ago.
“I wanted to see if my keys still worked,” he joked. “They didn’t, but I knocked and they let me in anyway.”
Dr. Van Devere, who spends winters in Florida, has enjoyed devoting his time to hobbies like fly fishing, playing banjo and golfing in his retirement.