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Avon resident Dr. Christopher Haas is Mercy Health-Lorain's 2020 Spirit of the Leadership Award recipient, awarded annually to a physician who exemplifies the values of the hospital’s founding religious order.

AVON

Christopher Haas had been a practicing urologist for one year when he was confronted with one of the toughest diagnoses of his career. His beloved father had kidney cancer and Haas was the one who had to tell him.

“It gave me a good feel for the other side of medicine,” he said, seeing what a patient and their family members go through during treatments and dealing with the expense. His father was a small business owner and could not stop working because he would have lost his health insurance. “It was an experience that changed my life.”

For the past 20 years, Haas has delivered what he calls “compassionate care” to his private practice patients and those at Mercy Health-Lorain. He also worked at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland from 1999-2013. He joined both institutions after completing his residency at University Hospitals in Cleveland. His service to patients, fellow physicians and medical students at his alma mater, Case Western Reserve University Medical School, was recognized recently by Mercy Health-Lorain with the Spirit of the Leadership award.

The annual award is given to a physician who exemplifies the values of the Sisters of Humility of Mary, the order that founded Mercy Health, one of the country's largest Catholic hospital systems. Its mission is to provide compassionate care for all, especially the poor and underserved, something Haas says is incredibly important to him.

The award came as a complete surprise. The presenter was well into an introduction about the recipient before Haas realized, “Oh, that's me,” and saw his wife, Michelle, enter the room. Out-of-town family members watched the ceremony via Zoom, another surprise until his phone “started blowing up” with calls from family members.

In addition to being a practicing physician and surgeon, Haas is director of Specialty Services, was elected chief of staff by fellow doctors, and chairs the strategy committee on the hospital's Board of Trustees.

He's come a long way from his childhood homes in Lakewood and North Olmsted and the halls of St. Ignatius High School, where he first discovered his love for science while also playing tennis and serving as the school newspaper’s editor.

At Boston College, he was a triple major in biology, psychology and theology. He called it the beginning of his “mind, body and spirit” practice. He recalled thoroughly enjoying theology classes with master's and doctoral students, who studied with some of the country's top theologians. He graduated summa cum laude.

Following medical school, he completed a seven-year residency with UH. During his training, he rotated between hospitals and services. He was determined to practice in a specialty where he could perform surgery and help people maintain their health. “It gave me the best of two worlds,” he said. He was drawn to urology by great instructors/mentors, with whom he eventually entered private practice and who treated Hass’s father until he died. Haas also found as he rotated through various practices that urologists “seemed happy and had nice work-life balance.”

In addition to building a practice and serving on staff at two hospitals, he taught medical students as an assistant professor at CWRU's medical school for a number of years. “It was rewarding to train young future physicians.”

Haas looks forward to the time his two college-age children graduate. Both are pursuing careers in the medical arena. He said he'd love to work with them professionally. In the meantime, he will continue to devote himself to “giving patients the time they want and deserve” and saying “yes” when asked to help staff and the hospital.

Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at avonlakemurphy@gmail.com.

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