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John P. Haberlin, M.D.

Carol Harbelin Corgan
Sister Helen Marie & John P. Haberlin, MD
circa 1968

My Father: Sixth President of Medical and Dental Staff

My father, John P. Haberlin, MD, was involved with Holy Cross Hospital from the very beginning, before it opened its doors. He served as the first chief of staff, and concurrently, the first chief of surgery.  In 1968, he was elected as the sixth president of the Medical and Dental Staff. During that time, he also taught surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine, so he recruited some of his best graduates to join the staff of the new hospital.

In the late 50s, the mansion at Strathmore was home to the Sisters of the Holy Cross who used it as a convent and also ran a school, called St. Angela Hall.  A lot of the doctors’ kids went to kindergarten there, including me. And I remember the Sisters’ having us pray for the success of the hospital at its inception, before ground was ever broken.

Dad didn’t lavish praise lightly, but he greatly admired Sister Laurencita, who was the first administrator.  He said she ran a really tight ship and used words like “incredible, the best, a dynamo” to describe her.

I have many memories of his tenure over the years, but one of the most vivid occurred on May 15, 1972. That’s the day when Alabama Governor George Wallace narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Laurel, Maryland, and suddenly Holy Cross Hospital was in the national news.  My father was one of the surgeons who operated on the Governor, and found him to be a courteous individual and good patient.  And he was very impressed with the grace of Mrs. Wallace and how she conducted herself throughout the whole ordeal.

Unfortunately, Dad died in 1975 of COPD—congestive obstructive pulmonary disease. He was only in his 50s, but they didn’t have any way to treat it at the time.  For a while in the 1980s, the pulmonary care section of the hospital bore his name.

If dad were alive today, he would have been so proud of how Holy Cross has grown and all its new endeavors—especially the plans for the new hospital in Germantown.

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