James N. “Jim” Haug, Past-Director, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Socioeconomic Affairs Department (now the Division of Advocacy and Health Policy), died at his home in Lena, IL, June 18, at age 78. Fellows and staff who worked with Mr. Haug remember him as a dedicated professional who delighted in fostering the careers of the people who worked for him and in spending time with his family.
“Jim was a complex character,” said Cynthia A. Brown, Past-Director, ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, now vice-president, government affairs, American Medical Association (AMA). “He could be adversarial but was extraordinarily supportive of his staff and his family. Some might say he was a little ‘old school,’ but then he was always looking for new and better ways of doing things. He was an early promoter of women and took great joy in growing and arranging strawflowers.”
Mr. Haug began working at the College in December 1974. One of the first activities he led was the development of the ACS Socioeconomic Factbook for Surgery, which contained health care data, summaries of pertinent federal legislation, and ACS position statements.
In March 1979, the ACS opened its Washington, DC, office. Under Mr. Haug’s direction, the office was charged with maintaining liaison with congressional staff, government agencies, and medical and surgical societies. The Washington Office also developed a pool of key contacts to offer advice and congressional testimony on relevant issues. As the government continued to play an increasingly prominent role in surgical practice in the 1980s and 1990s, the Washington Office staff expanded to include several registered lobbyists.
“Jim was an idea man and was always looking for ways to improve efforts to enhance the College’s reputation in Washington, DC, and in the medical community at large,” said Linn Meyer, Past-Director of the ACS Division of Integrated Communications and now Executive Consultant to the College.
W. Gerald Austen, MD, FACS, ACS Past-President, Past-Chair of the ACS Board of Regents, and Past-Chair of the Health Policy and Reimbursement Committee, remembers Mr. Haug as “very enjoyable to work with and very intelligent.” He had a great sense of what the College could accomplish in Washington, Dr. Austen noted, adding, “He was very practical, but also quite passionate about the American College of Surgeons.”
John O. Gage, MD, FACS, Past-Chair of the ACS Board of Governors Committee on Socioeconomic Issues, Past-Chair of the General Surgery Coding and Reimbursement Committee, and Distinguished Service Award recipient, recalls that when the College sent him and other ACS leaders to the first meeting of the AMA Relative Value Scale Update Committee, they were ill-prepared. However, they also saw an opportunity to have an impact on the committee’s decisions. With that, “Jim got us staff—Pat Parks [then-Manager of the Socioeconomic Affairs Department] and her staff—to give us background information and to work with us at the meetings.”
“Jim knew people well,” Dr. Gage added. He was adept at appointing people to the roles for which they were best-suited and cultivated a hard-working, loyal staff.
“I was the first person that Jim hired when he started the department in 1974. At the time, I thought I was going to write the great American novel, but Jim was very pragmatic. He told me that if I worked hard, I could have a gratifying career in this field. He was right,” said Rebecca M. Maron, CAE, now executive director, Society for Vascular Surgery.
“Always his authentic, straightforward, and candid self, Jim was genuinely interested in all of his employees—professionally and personally,” noted Catherine Jeakle Hill, who worked in the ACS Washington Office and now is senior manager, regulatory affairs, American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons. “He was a great boss for working parents and ahead of his time as a champion for work/life balance, although he may have bristled at the ‘politically correct’ term.”
Dedication to family and country
Mr. Haug’s commitment to the College and his team was exceeded only by the pride and love he exuded when talking about his family. “It was more than clear to anyone who knew Jim how much he loved and admired his wife, Norma, and his three sons, Doug, Curt, and Matt,” Ms. Meyer said.
Having served in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 to 1957, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Mr. Haug also was fiercely loyal to the military and the people who defend our nation. After retiring from the ACS in 1998, Mr. Haug was active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Freeport, IL, and on Lena’s economic development and planning committee. He also found time to pursue his other passions—including golf, cards, yard work, and coin collecting.