Local doctors get recognition from their peers

By Valerie Baldowski


Two local doctors, who received honorable mention in a Southern Crescent-area magazine, are taking the recognition in stride.

Dr. John Arthur Harsch, of Hampton, and Dr. Davis Scott Timbert, of McDonough -- both physicians at Southern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) -- were named "Top Docs" by Lifestyles magazine.

Based in Palmetto, Ga., the local publication covers the greater-Atlanta area. It features personal profiles, and covers arts and entertainment, area restaurants, and charitable organizations, said Donna Soper, Lifestyles' associate editor. Winners were chosen by their peers in the medical profession, said Soper. The doctors were featured in the May/June issue of the magazine.

Dr. Timbert, 58, specializes in breast surgery. Dr. Harsch, 53, specializes in internal medicine. Timbert has been with SRMC for 11 years, and Harsch, 24 years, officials said.

"My whole goal of taking care of patients is, how can we do this better?" Timbert asked. "The question is, what would I want done for my wife, my sister or my mom? I treat them [patients] like they were my family."

Timbert said he was mentioned in Lifestyles magazine several times before, so he was not surprised at the most recent recognition. "It's nice to be acknowledged by your peers," he said.

Timbert's career path began more than 30 years ago in a completely different field. He was an air traffic controller, from 1974 to 1981, but was among those, nationwide, who former president Ronald Reagan laid off. His search for another job led him to the Atlanta Fire Department, where he worked as a firefighter. Responding to a medical emergency call produced yet another career change, he said.

"I ended up doing CPR on a guy," he said. "That kind of sparked my interest in medicine."

He eventually became involved with the rescue service at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and the Atlanta Fire Department sent him for emergency medical technician (EMT) training. But Timbert said he wanted more. "I developed a yearning for more medical experience, beyond the paramedic," he said.

After some consideration, Timbert went to medical school. After graduating from medical school, he said, he faced a turning point in his life. "The first year I was in private practice, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It focused what I really wanted to do."

Dr. Harsch, who has been on staff at the hospital since late 1986, said he chose the medical profession because of his passion for helping others. "I wrestled long and hard, before deciding to go to medical school," he said. "Ultimately, it was a desire to help people, and what skills and assets I had to do that well. And, I'd been an automobile mechanic and other jobs, and I was lousy at them. I had a sense I'd be a better doctor."

He said being recognized in a magazine is not as important to him as the level of care he can provide his patients. "My first reaction was, my mom will be proud," said Harsch. "Although I'm grateful for being named, it is not the yardstick I judge my performance by. That yardstick is how well I serve my patients. Although I always try to do my best, I receive daily reminders that I need to do even better."

He credited his success to others behind the scene.

"If I succeed at all, it is due to support from my wonderful staff and excellent partners," he said. "I view the award as being [due to] all of their work, with just my name put on it to save space."