Berthold Ernst Hadra, M.D.

Berthold Ernst Hadra, M.D.

Dr. Hadra was born in Prussia in 1842, and graduated med school at the University of Berlin, then served as a volunteer surgeon in the war against Austria in 1866, then joined the Prussian Army Service. He moved to Texas in 1870 to practice medicine for the next 35 years until he died in 1905.

He started in Galveston, where he was professor of surgery at the Galveston Medical College, then went to Austin where he served on the board of regents at UT. Next he worked as city health physician in San Antonio, then spent the 90s in Waco before moving to Dallas to teach surgery at the Medical Dept of Southwestern University.

While in Waco, he was elected vice president of the State Medical Association in 1899, and president in 1900. No other Texas doctor (no less Waco) had such international medical fame for his writings and inventions. He was the first surgeon to thoroughly wash and drain the abdominal cavity in diffuse peritonitis, the first to devise conservative surgical treatment in place of oophorectomy, the first to add wiring of the vertebrae in surgery of the spine, and the original writer of a paper on open treatment of torticollis.

Yet he thought himself a failure. In all his moves, and in spite of all his academic success and international acclaim, he never achieved social or financial success. His Waco colleagues felt it surely would have come had he stayed in one place, and reaped the many benefits of putting down roots in a community.

David Hoffman, M.D.

The majority of family physicians in Waco, me included, trained under David. Dr. Mike Hardin, Director of Waco’s family medicine residency program (and a resident who studied under Dr. Hoffman himself) had this to say: “Three words come to mind when I think of David: consistent, compassionate and competent. He is an extremely competent surgeon โ€” I can always trust his opinion. He is stable, rock solid and consistent โ€” I can always rely on him as a teacher and consultant. Finally, he gives compassionate care to those in need. These three qualities make him a highly effective doctor and teacher โ€” one to emulate and one to whom I entrust my patients.”

David was instrumental in bringing minimally invasive surgery to Waco. After doing undergrad at Texas A&M med school at UTMB Galveston, general surgery residency and vascular fellowship at the University of Florida, Dr. Hoffman came to Waco in 1986 and joined Waco Surgical Group. When minimally invasive laparoscopic and endovascular options became available, David went to San Francisco to train in advanced laparoscopic surgery, and also did a Senior Endovascular Fellowship at University Hospital in Lubbock, then brought these techniques and skills back to serve Waco’s patients, in partnership with both hospitals and physician colleagues from several specialties.

David has been president of the medical staff and on the board of directors of both BSW Hillcrest and Providence hospitals. He has volunteered with the Lady Bears basketball team, has a strong faith, has worked with Sunday School programs and Bible Study Fellowship, loves the mountains of Colorado, and has a best friend and wife of 31 years in Sharon.

How do you feel things are in Waco medicine today?

One of the main original reasons I enjoyed Waco medicine was two hospitals, both who treated all levels of socioeconomic patients without any restrictions. I truly enjoyed knowing and interacting with all the physicians at both hospitals and in the entire county. That is the change that has been hardest to watch. As corporations take over the hospitals, unfortunately the staffs have divided and physicians have taken much less a role in leadership. I would love to say the quality of care has increased, but I am not sure it has. I see the future in medicine to be increasingly controlled by corporations and the federal government. Whether that will be good or bad is too early to tell!

If there is one message you’d give to a young physician, what would it be?

If you love people and science, there is no better profession. I think residents today have grown up in the world of working for a hospital or corporation. I don’t think the changes older physicians bemoan will affect them near as much.


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