Hurley education center honors longtime oncologist Dr. Abbott, a national leader in cancer research

FLINT, Michigan—Already one of the state’s leading teaching hospitals, now Hurley Medical Center also has an education center to allow for large-scale training and conferences. 

The Dr. R. Roderic Abbott Medical Education Center is named in honor of the renowned local oncologist who for 40 years served patients in Flint and served as director of hematology and oncology at Hurley until his retirement in 1997. Abbott, who passed in 2015, was known for his selfless devotion to his patients and friends. Hurley Foundation President Mike Burnett called Abbott’s legacy “symbolic of our dedication to education.”

The official ribbon cutting to the new Dr. R. Roderic Abbott Medical Education CenterĀ at Hurley Medical Center.The new center located inside Hurley Medical Center is comprised of seven different technology-enhanced rooms with the ability to host up to 200 of Hurley’s learners, providing ample space for trainings and conferences within the hospital.

Abbott believed every patient had the right to the best care possible, regardless of their ability to pay.  He never took a salary from Hurley and he went as far as to donate patient payments back to the hospital. 

“It’s very traditional for us. We tend to name things after leaders who have made this hospital what it is today,” Burnett said. 

Dr. Margaret Setter-Abbott told those gathered for the dedication how her late husband modeled his life on Bible verses Matthew 6, verses 1-24 — which tell us to give selflessly.

“And he truly did that throughout his whole life,” Setter-Abbott said. “Everyone was his friend, and it meant so much to him to have a friend in all people.”

That compassion made him a model to his peers, too, said Dr. Jitendra P. Katneni, a geriatric and internal medicine specialist who chaired the fundraising committee for the new education center. 

“Dr. Abbott respected everybody,” Katneni said. “We learned a lot of things from him, not just medicine, but how to be as a person.” 

Abbott also served as an instructor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and clinical professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. He also was deeply involved in medical research and was frequently published in medical journals. Even after retirement and until his death, the Cancer Centers of America depended on his expertise to  review and evaluate experimental cancer protocols.

Donations from both current and retired medical professionals throughout the community were key in making the renovation possible, Burnett said. The foundation continues to accept donations to the medical education center. Donors are being honored in a permanent display at the entrance to the center. 

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