It takes only a few minutes talking with Jean Marie Haggerty, MD, to realize she is someone who truly loves what she does. Dr. Haggerty, a board-certified pediatrician with MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics Primary Care in Leonardtown, moved to St. Mary’s County a year ago after practicing in Northern Virginia the previous 10 years.
“Caring for a child from birth to adolescence is a privilege,” she said. “There is always a challenge every day in pediatrics – it keeps you fresh, it keeps you young, it keeps you on your toes.”
Always interested in medical sciences, it was her experience working closely with children that steered her toward a career in pediatrics.
“The year after college, I worked with abused and at-risk children,” Dr. Haggerty said. “One day, I was on the phone with my dad and he said, ‘Have you ever thought about being a doctor – a pediatrician?’ It was as if a light bulb went on and I realized that being a pediatrician could combine the clinical aspects of medicine with advocacy and care of children.”
Dr. Haggerty graduated with honors from Cornell University, then earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School and was named to AOA Honor Medical Society. She completed her pediatrics residency at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts in 2003. Named a Top Doctor by Washingtonian Magazine in 2015 and Washington Parents magazine in 2012, she is a firm believer that patient care extends beyond the office visit.
“Children are not just our patients for the 15 to 20 minutes they are in the office,” she said. “Phone calls to make sure things are going well after you leave the office, asking if there are any questions after the visit - that’s important follow-up care.”
Before moving to St. Mary’s, Dr. Haggerty was working as a pediatrician in Reston, Virginia, and was hoping to incorporate teaching and academic medicine into her practice.
“I saw MedStar Georgetown’s job posting and I thought it would be a great fit because Georgetown has a reputation of clinical excellence,” she said. “I met the staff and felt a connection with them. The staff is wonderful to work with and I feel MedStar Georgetown supports providing optimal care to patients.”
Fostering a good relationship with her patients and their parents is a critical component of thorough care, according to Dr. Haggerty.
“Compassion and understanding blended with providing excellent medical care is essential because a patient is not just a body,” she said. “They have feelings and emotions and making sure there is a relationship between the doctor and the patient improves outcomes and care for everyone involved.”
My son, Robbie, was having a lot of medical issues and no one knew what to do. We started seeing Dr. Haggerty last summer, and she ordered several tests - she wasn’t going to give up until she found out what was going on with him. She really felt it was sleep apnea and sent him for a sleep study. He had his tonsils out a few weeks ago and all of the issues we had been having with him are gone. It was all his tonsils. After the surgery, she called three times just to check on him. I have never had a pediatrician give my kids so much effort and care.
- Ginny Gretton, mother of Robbie, 6
The Monday after our son, Cameron, was born, Dr. Haggerty received a frantic voicemail from us. Cameron was born with a cleft palate. As new parents, we were stunned and didn’t know what to do. She came to the hospital to let us know everything would be okay and she would be with us through this journey. From the time he was born until now she continues to research information for Cam, see him whenever needed, and has always been available for a phone call. After we selected our craniofacial surgical team, she has continued to work closely with them to ensure her medical plan remains in line with theirs. We are truly grateful to have found such an amazing advocate for our son.
- Robin Gatton, mother of Cameron, 7 months