John Hoertz was a beloved physician and an amazing individual

John Hoertz was a longtime obstetrician and gynecologist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
John Hoertz was a longtime obstetrician and gynecologist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
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Dr. John Hoertz was a caring physician, and the women he cared for were not just "patients" to him.

A native of Long Island and a Navy and Marine veteran, John delivered thousands of babies before retiring in 2011 after more than 40 years as an obstetrician and gynecologist in this community. In fact, it was not uncommon for John to deliver babies for new moms who had also been delivered by him decades earlier.

Washington Hill
Washington Hill

John passed away on April 24, and the Suncoast lost a wonderful person as well as a beloved physician.

As I was putting together this remembrance of John, so many colleagues were quick to offer their own fond stories of this genuine and warm man. All of us remember how John would proudly display photos of the mothers and babies he had delivered – it symbolized his deep sense of commitment to the patients who had entrusted him with their care throughout the prenatal and birth process.

In fact, one of John's greatest gifts was his ability to talk with – and not simply to – his patients, which is a priceless skill so badly needed in today's world. John would take the time to thoroughly communicate with patients, whether it was regarding a complicated pregnancy, an illness, a surgery or another issue. John would not merely hear what his patients said – he would actually listen to what they said.

I first met John when I came to this community more than 30 years ago. When he was in practice, we would sometimes confer regarding patients who needed additional consultations regarding their pregnancies. I still remember how John would always end our phone conversations. "Thanks, Wash," he would say. "I appreciate it."

John and I would also sit down to an occasional dinner, as well as share stories about our separate trips to Africa. While taking part in an African safari, John tripped over something and broke his ankle. Yet after merely a handful of weeks of recuperation – and thanks to help from his wife, Shelley, a great orthopedist and lots of good friends and colleagues – John, using crutches, was back in the Labor and Delivery unit to help mothers safely deliver their babies.

John had many career milestones, and he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Sarasota Memorial Hospital in 2005. He was a man of faith who treasured the miracle of childbirth and fully understood the great responsibility that God had given him as a doctor. John truly felt that he had been called to be an obstetrician and gynecologist, and his accomplished career at Sarasota Memorial Hospital surely exemplified that belief.

You will be deeply missed and always remembered, Dr. John Hoertz.

Washington Hill, M.D., is a longtime Sarasota obstetrician and gynecologist.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: John Hoertz made a difference as a Sarasota OB-GYN