As a boy growing up in Uganda – the son of a research scientist – Dr. Alastair Haddow determined the career path he’d like to follow. “At age 7, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. That’s the course I’ve pursued ever since,” Haddow says.
After the family moved to England and Haddow attended boarding school, he enrolled in medical school at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
He met his wife – a native of Rockford, Ill. – on a vacation in America, and that eventually led him to take on a residency and work as a fellow at the University of Iowa. In the spring of 1980, they moved to Springfield, and he joined the independent Internal Medicine Clinic, becoming, at the time, he says, the only infectious disease expert in town. Later in the ‘80s, he became the go-to-guy in the community for HIV education and treatment, in a time when there was a lot of misinformation regarding AIDS patients.
“There was tremendous fear, ignorance and discrimination, too, and even with (patient) families,” he notes, recalling parents were fearful their children were at risk if they were exposed to someone with HIV at school.
In the late ‘90s, Haddow, along with pharmacists at Mercy, began a pharmaceutical research division to perform trials on new drugs and evaluate their effectiveness in treating various diseases. He also expanded infection control departments at Mercy and Skaggs Regional Medical Center in order to stem the risk of hospital-acquired infections with patients. Haddow is also known for his work with elephants after treating a sick elephant at Dickerson Park Zoo with antiviral drugs for a herpes infection – something that had only been done with humans.
An infectious disease specialist at Mercy Clinic since 2009, Haddow has held a number of leadership positions at Mercy and Skaggs Regional Medical Center – namely stints as chief of staff at each system. Other leaderships positions include chairman of Skaggs Credentials Committee and Infection Control, chairman of Mercy committees for infection and antibiotic surveillance, and director of Mercy’s medical research.
With more than 30 years of local practice under his belt, Haddow is known as a leader in the medical community, particularly with regard to infection control. “I’ve been in leadership roles … but really, when it comes down to it, the satisfaction has all come from treating patients,” Haddow says. Click here for full coverage of the 2012 Salute to Health Care.