Growing up in Cleveland, Dr. John Pope says he didn’t know much about Akron. Now, after 19 years at Akron Children’s Hospital, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.
“I decided early on that this is where I wanted to stay until I retire,” Dr. Pope said. “When I came here from Cleveland I said, this is the best-kept secret in Northeast Ohio.”
Dr. Pope was exposed to medicine from a young age by his grandmother and older sister, who were both nurses, and knew that was the career path he wanted to pursue. He credits Dr. James Besunder, director of pediatric critical care, with bringing him to Akron Children’s.
“We always say we’re joined at the hip,” Dr. Pope said with a laugh. “He was the chief resident when I went through my residency and when he came to Akron Children’s to be the director of the pediatric intensive care unit, he asked me to join him.”
Dr. Pope recently transitioned out of his role as the associate director of pediatric critical care, where he served for years, into a new role as director of medical education.
“It still allows me to do critical care, which I didn’t want to give up, but gives me a new challenge,” Dr. Pope said. “There’s a tremendous amount to learn.”
Dr. Pope’s love for pediatric critical care has extended far beyond Akron. He has been traveling to Haiti since 2010 when Dr. Jeff Kempf asked him to accompany him on a trip there to provide assistance after a devastating earthquake. He helped form the hospital’s partnership with St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Port-au-Prince and helped establish the Haitian Pediatric Critical Care Coalition.
“We are so blessed with all the resources we have here,” Dr. Pope said. “Going to Haiti and seeing people do incredible things with so much less is humbling.”
Dr. Pope continues to travel to Haiti with teams from the hospital and says it’s gratifying to see St. Damien Hospital continue to grow.
His desire to help patients beyond the hospital’s walls has also translated into volunteer roles. Dr. Pope has served as a long-time volunteer for Fresh Air Camp, a summer camp for children with respiratory issues, and Dreamnight at the Akron Zoo, an event for children with chronic medical conditions.
When he’s not working or volunteering, you might find him running one of the many trails in the Akron area. An accomplished trail runner, Dr. Pope has completed one 100K race, six 50-mile races and “a lot” of 50K races. For him, it’s also a family affair – his wife and sons are also runners.
“My wife got hooked on running just as I was ready to be done with it,” he said with a laugh.
Dr. Pope has been running since he was in college at the University of Toledo and completed about six races last year, including the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay in September – an event he’s glad to see the hospital associated with.
Witnessing that community support that Akron Children’s provides and receives, locally and internationally, prompted Dr. Pope to give in yet another way – by becoming a donor to the hospital.
“I think the community supports this hospital so much and if people on the outside are going to support us, I thought I should too,” he said. “I’m invested in the mission of the hospital; we’re working for the kids.”
For more information about how you can support Akron Children’s, call Luann Maynard, senior major gifts officer at the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation, at 330-543-1302.