At age 82, Dr. Hathaway Harvey still wakes up early and heads to the hospital most mornings to assist with surgery. He retired five years ago as a partner in his former medical practice, but he still enjoys helping other ear, nose and throat surgeons, and sharing in the head and neck surgeries he has practiced in Chattanooga for more than a half century .
"The great surgeons I get to work with keep me off the street until about noon most days until I try to get out on the golf course in the afternoon," Harvey says. "There's just something great about being at the hospital at 6:30 and going into surgery surrounded by a lot of great and smart people and helping take care of other people."
Two years ago, when Harvey himself was in need of medical care and was taken to the emergency room at 2 a.m. with a quivery heart, he wore his scrubs so he could still operate later that morning if he felt better after his first atrial fibrillation episode. The doctors managed to keep Harvey overnight, but he returned that afternoon to visit another patient, and was back the following morning to assist in surgery.
Harvey's lifelong dedication to medical care in Chattanooga earned him the Lifetime Achievement award in the 2021 Champions of Health Care.
Harvey says he always wanted to be a doctor, which combines his love of science and biology with his desire to help other people. But to achieve his dream, he had to overcome some obstacles in New Castle, Indiana, where he grew up and his parents divorced when he was only 5 years old.
His grandparents, who helped raise Harvey, lived in a neighborhood with a number of physicians he first met mowing their lawns and babysitting their children. As a teenager, the local physicians sparked Harvey's early interest in medicine and served as mentors for the budding medical scientist. By the time he was 14 years old, Harvey often went to the local hospital where the doctors showed him X-rays and let him observe surgeries.
Harvey says part of his early interest in medicine was spurred by the untimely death of two of his fifth-grade friends who died of leukemia. The father of the girl he knew who died was a surgeon, and helped guide Hathaway into an early interest in biology.
Harvey won a golf scholarship at DePauw University to become one of the first members of his family to go to college. Harvey has played golf all his life, and achieved some success in the sport at DePauw. But he says golf was always a sideline, and was a means to the college degree he needed to practice medicine.
Harvey earned his medical degree at Indiana University where he developed a lifelong friendship and business association with Dr. John Boxell, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. When the two young head and neck surgeons graduated together, they decided to seek out a practice where they could use their surgical skills.
Dr. Hathaway Harvey
* Role: A head and neck surgeon in the practice of otolaryngology for more than 50 years.
* Career: He moved to Chattanooga in 1970 with his Indiana Medical School classmate Dr. John Boxell, a previous winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, and has worked as a surgeon, practice partner and teacher and mentor for younger physicians.
* Community involvement: Harvey served on the board of trustees for Erlanger Health System and raised funds for Erlanger Children’s Hospital. Along with his wife, Harvey has co-chaired the King Oehmig Memorial Golf Tournament to raise money for Metropolitan Ministries where he has also served as a volunteer.
* Personal: Dr. Harvey is the father of two adopted children, and his wife Judy has three grown children. He lives in North Chattanooga and remains an avid golfer.
"We looked from Grand Rapids to Dayton to Springfield and then someone mentioned maybe we should look in Chattanooga," Harvey recalls. "We quickly fell in love with the community and the practice (joining Drs. Harold Alper and Jack Evans)."
Harvey became a national authority in thyroid conditions and surgery, teaching a course at the American Academy of Otolaryngology for 25 years — the longest running course in its history. He also has remained a lifetime learner, driving to Atlanta at age 72 to learn a new type of surgery.
"Dr. Harvey brought great energy to the practice and became a leading ENT, Head and Neck surgeon in the region," says Joyce Cowan, who worked with Harvey as a clinical nurse for 35 years before her retirement. "During his practice, he did many large complicated cases when he knew patients could not afford it because of a lack of insurance. He worked with various organizations and charities that would help."
One of the many doctors he has helped through the years, Dr. Peter Hunt, also praises Harvey for both his support for his surgeon colleagues and his courtesy and encouragement to everyone at the hospital.
"To spend 17 years with an elite surgeon who knows the custodial workers by name, treats the circulating nurses with respect, and has never raised his voice to demean or embarrass anyone in the operating room is a gift of immeasurable value, not only to me, but also to those he encouraged in the surgical suites and hallways of the hospitals in our community over the the past 50 years," Dr. Hunt writes in nominating Dr. Harvey for the lifetime achievement honor.
CHAMPIONS OF HEALTH CARE 2021