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Friend of Children retiring - again

June 15, 2009


Globe Gazette

Monday June 15, 2009


MASON CITYMason City pediatrician Dr. John Justin can look back over a career that has emphasized enhanced medical practice, continuing education and community service.


Underlying all of this is a basic caring and concern for his patients.


“I like to work with children and the families,” Justin, 70, said from his Mason City home.


Since retiring from his practice in 2002 he has served as a visiting associate professor for Child Health Specialty Clinics, operated in Mason City through the University of Iowa.


He will retire from this work at the end of June.


Justin was instrumental in creating a neonatal intensive care unit for newborns  in Mason City and, in 1976, founded the Annual Symposium on Perinatal Care in Mason City.


From 1973 to 2001 he served as an instructor in pediatrics for the Family Practice Residency Program at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa.


Mason City pediatrician and longtime colleague Dr. David Little said Justin was a leader in the medical and pediatric community.


“When he came here, he really  introduced modern newborn care to Mason City,” Little said. “Then he did a lot of outreach work with the University of Iowa, taking care of children with cancer and other complex medical problems.


“Later in his career he became interested in childhood behavior and development.


“I don’t know the names of all the awards he received, but he was very well thought of at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Public Health,” said Little.


Justin’s most recent award is the 2009 Title V Friend of Iowa’s Children Award for his work on behalf of the health and well-being of Iowa youth, including those with special health care needs.


A native of Ludhiana, Punjab, in northern India, Justin served from 1964 to 1966 as medical officer providing care for refugees from Tibet.


He still maintains a personal friendship with Samdung Rimpoche, prime minister of Tibet in exile.


Justin and his wife, Delphine, arrived in Mason City in 1971. They are parents of two grown sons, Neal of Minneapolis, and Kenneth of Boston.


Before coming to Iowa, Justin had worked for two years as a clinical instructor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


After an interview at Mason City’s Park Clinic, he decided to give Mason City a try.


“I liked the place,” he said. “The medical facilities as a whole, for a town this size, are very good.”


He welcomed the opportunity to work in the Park Clinic, where various specialties were housed in one building. This made it easy for physicians to consult with one another, he said.


In 1978, he and three other pediatricians left Park Clinic. They formed a private practice, first in the Medical Arts building and later in a building they had built in the Briarstone Addition, the Pediatrics and Adolescent Clinic.


The practice was purchased in 1994 by North Iowa Mercy Health Center, now Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, and the pediatricians’ practice moved to Mercy’s west campus.


In his years in practice, Justin has witnessed many advances in medical technology and diagnostic procedures, he said.


He has also seen a decline in the amount of time doctors can spend with their patients.


“Technology is improving very quickly,” he said. “The human touch gets lost.”

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