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Retiring doctors leave indelible mark on Akron Children’s

Drs. Margaret and John McBride.

Drs. Margaret and John McBride.

Akron Children’s was doubly fortunate when the husband-and-wife team of John and Margaret McBride joined its medical staff in 1999, and now it’s a double loss to see them retire.

The hospital, and especially its patients, have benefited immeasurably from their tenure.

The McBrides, both 68, were content with their careers at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, when they received a call from a former colleague asking them to come to Akron on a recruiting visit.

They had dinner with President and CEO Bill Considine and were impressed with the hospital’s mission and focus on pediatrics as an independent children’s hospital. With their 2 daughters grown, they decided it was a good time for new challenges.

Dr. Margaret McBride teamed up with Dr. Tom Enlow to begin Akron Children’s in-house pediatric neurology program.

Dr. John McBride joined Dr. Greg Omlor to expand the hospital’s pediatric pulmonology program.

“We’ve always appreciated the alignment here,” said John. “The board, the administration, the medical staff and employees all share the same goals. The hospital has been willing to invest in its clinical programs and that has contributed to the growth we have seen.”

Advances in medicine

Over the 4 decades they’ve practiced medicine, the McBrides have seen significant changes in their specialties.

When Margaret became interested in child neurology, it was a relatively new field and CT and MRI scans were not yet invented.

“I was attracted to the art of medicine and the intellectual challenge of neurology,” she said. “Without the imaging technology, we had to rely on the physical exam, the medical history and listening to patients and, of course, that is still important today.”

John remembers in his early career when there were few medications for children with asthma, the life expectancy of children with cystic fibrosis was less than 20 years, and few children with respiratory problems were intubated. Pediatric intensive care units were just being created.

Four decades have brought about much better understanding of asthma, and CF patients now thrive into their 30s and beyond.

Dr. John McBride

Dr. John McBride worked closely with Martez Moorer, and his mom Ceasha, to bring the toddler’s severe asthma under control.

John and Margaret met during their first week at Case Western Reserve University Medical School, were engaged within 4 months after their first date, and married before their second year.

Upon graduation, they completed their pediatrics residency in Rochester. Before continuing with their training in Boston, they spent 3 years practicing medicine in rural South Carolina as part of the National Health Service Corp. They did home visits and treated many people who had never before been seen by a doctor.

Seeing the trust these patients put in them left a profound impression and forever shaped their approach to medicine.

A clinician above all else

While Margaret takes great pride in growing her division and leading it through significant changes, such as the creation of the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center in 2004, she considers herself first and foremost a clinician.

“I have loved working with families and sharing this journey with them,” she said. “I am inspired by them. They stay positive when life can be a struggle and make what looks like lemons into lemonade.”

Dr. Enlow said patients respond to her compassion.

Dr. Margaret McBrid

Dr. Margaret McBride gets a smile from long-time patient Claire Franz.

“She is a thoughtful person and I admire her not only for her dedication to her patients, but her skill as an administrator,” Dr. Enlow said. “She listens to her colleagues and always wants to hear different opinions.”

A mentor and children’s advocate

In addition to his great rapport with patient families, John will be remembered for mentoring young physicians and his advocacy of quality initiatives in medical practice.

“I think we, as doctors, have always tried to do the right thing but now we see the need for a more systematic approach – working together, following guidelines and standardizing care. For doctors and nurses, guidelines are a good thing,” he said.

In addition to his clinical duties, John agreed to serve as interim chair of Pediatrics from 2006 to 2009. This evolved into his current role as associate chair of the department.

During these last few years, he gained international recognition for an academic paper he authored noting the relationship between acetaminophen use and increased incidence of asthma.

As scientific evidence continued to build, he felt a moral obligation to warn not only his own patient families but all parents about a health risk that could be easily avoided.

“I like to joke that when Akron Children’s recruited them, Margaret was the prize and John was the tag-along,” said Dr. Norm Christopher, chairman of Pediatrics. “But it’s worked out pretty well for us. They are model physicians. A model couple. They have truly made this a better place.”

The McBrides are looking forward to spending more time with their daughters, Laura and Lindy, and their grandchildren, spending time at a family tree farm in Vermont and traveling. They have already visited almost every corner of the world, but still have places left on their bucket lists.

And they won’t be saying good-bye entirely to medicine. They each plan to spend a few days a month seeing patients – a habit that’s hard to break after 43 years.

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