Harbin Clinic is the product of five generations of medical history that started over 150 years ago. The predecessor to the Harbin Clinic was the Harbin Hospital that was founded in 1908 by Dr. Robert Harbin and Dr. William Harbin. After many years of success and growth, the Harbin Hospital was transformed into the Harbin Clinic in 1948.
Today, the Harbin Clinic is the largest privately owned multi-specialty physician group in Georgia. The staff includes 140 doctors who represent more 30 different medical specialties and sub-specialties including medical and radiation oncology. The Harbin Clinic offers full lab and radiology services, including a 64-slice CT Scanner, High-Field MRI, Extremity MRI and bone densitometry. Harbin Clinic’s main campus is located at 1825 Martha Berry Boulevard in Rome, Georgia. There are 20 satellite offices located throughout Rome, Calhoun, Cartersville, Cedartown, Adairsville, and Summerville.
Some of Harbin Clinic’s comprehensive ancillary services include a certified Vascular Lab, Dialysis Center, Diabetes Management Center, Sleep Disorders Center Vitality Wellness Center and the Harbin Clinic Vein Center. Located in Rome, the Vein Center provides minimally invasive treatment for varicose and spider veins. Harbin Clinic is also on the leading edge of technology by being one of the first in Northwest Georgia to use Electronic Medical Records.
The entire organization services an 11-county service area with an estimated population of more than 600,000. Counties include Floyd, Polk, Bartow, Cherokee, Chattooga, Gordon, Haralson, Walker, and Paulding in Georgia and Cherokee and DeKalb counties in Alabama. More than 1,000 patients utilize the services of the organization each day. More than 1 million phone calls are handled by the organization each year.
In the summer of 2007, Harbin Clinic opened the Harbin Clinic Specialty Center, at 550 Redmond Road, next door to the Harbin Clinic Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Center. The Specialty Center houses the Vascular Lab, Vascular Surgery, Ophthalmology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dermatology, Nephrology, Neurosciences, Neurosurgery, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Internal Medicine and Nephrology. The Harbin Clinic Summerville Dialysis Center was opened in Summerville in January 2008, and the Harbin Clinic Cedartown Medical Building was opened in the fall of 2008 and is the location for the departments of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Diabetes Management, Cardiac Rehab and Dialysis Center in Cedartown. The Harbin Clinic Cartersville Medical Center opened in 2008 and houses full Imaging and Lab departments, Cardiology, Cardiac Rehab, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Rheumatology, Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Diabetes Management and a Multi-Specialty department for 9 different specialties.
In April of 2011, Harbin Clinic completed a comprehensive state of the art cancer center in Rome, the Harbin Clinic Tony E. Warren Cancer Center. The three story, 55,000 square foot building is located on the corner of Second Avenue and West Fifth Street between Barron Stadium and Floyd Medical Center in Rome.
While already maintaining the lead in providing the latest technology in cancer care to patients of Rome and Northwest Georgia, the Tony E. Warren Cancer Center is the destination for patient-focused cancer care and support services. With cancer patients in mind, the cancer center is designed to meet patient needs at all points of their care.
Specialties and services located in the center include the offices of our Medical Oncologists and their Infusion Center, our Radiation Oncologists and their Radiation Oncology Center with two Varian linear accelerators, an imaging center with a new PET/CT scanner, and a state of the art imaging device for detecting cancers. “Again, the presence of this scanner in the cancer center clearly indicates how this is a community effort, as the scanner is jointly owned by Redmond Medical Center, Floyd Medical Center and Rome Radiology,” Dr. Davis said. Located on the third floor of the Cancer Center is the Floyd Breast Center. There is also be a conference center which will host Harbin’s multidisciplinary lung and breast tumor cancer conferences.
The present Harbin Clinic is the product of five generations of medical history that started over 150 years ago. Although the Harbins' and their associates were not the only outstanding practitioners of medicine during this period, their history does point to one of the major reasons for the current predominance of the medical community in Rome and Floyd County; that new generations have built on a tradition of excellence in healthcare as set forth by the previous generation.
The first Harbin to practice medicine in Georgia was Dr. Wylie Reeder Harbin, who was born in Fairplay, South Carolina on April 25, 1832.
Dr. Harbin's educational opportunities included reading medicine under Dr. Robert B. Maxwell, a country doctor in Fairplay, and graduating from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1858.
During the Civil War, he served in the 7th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry. He saw action in the skirmishes along the north side of the James River and in the battles from Richmond to Appomattox, Virginia. He was captured in Farmville, Virginia, on the Saturday before the surrender and remained a prisoner until news that the war was over reached the prison. After he was released, he walked over 350 miles back to his home in South Carolina.
Dr. Harbin married Mary Stokes Shelor (1840-1913) in 1861. In 1871, the family moved to Gordon County near Calhoun, Georgia, where he continued medical practice until he was forced to retire due to poor health in the late 1890's.
Wylie Reeder Harbin, M. D., had four children:
* Thomas Witherspoon Harbin, (1862 - 1937)
* Robert Maxwell Harbin, M.D. (1864 - 1939)
* Nina Harbin, (1867 - 1935)
* William Pickens Harbin, -M.D., (1872 - 1942)
Although the eldest of Dr. Harbin's four children did not become a doctor, Thomas Witherspoon Harbin (1862 - 1937) organized and built the Echota Cotton Mills in Calhoun. He also became a judge, state senator, religious leader, and played an important part in the development of Gordon County. Judge Thomas Harbin's son, Robert Maxwell Harbin II, after attending Harvard Medical School, was briefly associated with the Harbin Hospital in Rome from 1922 - 1924. He later became a professor of orthopedic surgery at Western Reserve College, Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr. W. R. Harbin's second son, Robert Maxwell Harbin, Sr., M.D. (1864 - 1939) was educated at the University of Georgia, and the Bellevue Medical College of New York City. He returned to practice with his father in Calhoun in 1888. In 1894, Robert Maxwell Harbin, Sr., M.D., moved to Rome to set up practice, and in 1897, he invited his younger brother to join his practice.
William Pickens Harbin, M.D., was actually the first Harbin doctor to be born in Georgia (on October 11, 1872, at his father's farm in Gordon County). He received an A.B. degree from the University of Georgia in 1894, and a Medical Doctorate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College of New York City in 1897.
In 1897, William Pickens Harbin, M.D. (later known as Dr. Will) accepted his older brother's offer to join his surgical practice in Rome, Georgia.
Shortly after arriving in Rome, in 1898, and borrowing money from his brother to begin his medical practice, Dr. Will left Rome to accept a commission as acting assistant surgeon in the United States Army during the Spanish American War. He saved his military pay, repaid his brother's loan, and returned to Rome after the war in 1901. The first practice location for the two Harbin brothers was on the second floor of the building at 206 Broad Street (adjacent to the current Wyatt's building). Prospective patients would call from the sidewalk to learn if one or both doctors were in before walking up the stairs. The two Harbin brothers practiced medicine together until Dr. Robert's death in 1939.
The forerunners of modern day ambulances, two low-style buggies, each with a pair of horses and waiting drivers, were parked on the sidewalk in front of the building, ready to race the doctors to the home of patients in need of medical attention.
The cost of an office visit was usually $1. Home visits were $2 to $3. O. B. cases were $10 to $ 30. Often bills could not be paid until the cotton crops came in. When people paid in full at the time of service, they expected a cash discount.
Smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, pellagra, tuberculosis and diabetes were common diseases of the time. Diagnosis depended on active symptoms, physical findings and sputum examinations. Hypodermic syringes could not be boiled as the plungers were made of leather. Needles were wiped clean with alcohol.
The Harbin brothers established the Harbin Hospital in 1908. The original hospital occupied a former residence at the southeastern corner of Third Avenue and First Street and had twelve beds.
In 1919, a new "state of the art" four story, fire-proof building was constructed next to the original hospital at the cost of $90,000. The original hospital was turned into a nurse's dormitory, for the nurse training program that had been established in 1911.
In 1920, three additional stories were added to the structure, raising the bed capacity to 75. The building of seven stories was Rome's tallest structure. According to George Magruder Battey's history of Rome, "The new Harbin Hospital was a marvel of sturdiness, architectural beauty, and completeness, and is highly symbolic of the character of work performed by the staff."
The building contained every modern convenience for the time, such as vapor heating systems, electrical lights, silent call systems, hot and cold running water in each room, linoleum floors, three complete operating suites, large sun parlors on three floors and a private telephone exchange. The safe-gate elevator ran from basement to roof.
In 1921, the Harbin Hospital was recognized by the American College of Surgeons as one of only four hospitals in Georgia to meet their board's standards of excellence. Georgia Baptist and Grady Hospitals in Atlanta, and the hospital at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, were the only other Georgia facilities listed.
Franklin D. Martin, M.D., director of the American College of Surgeons wrote the following comments in his 1921 review of the Harbin Hospital:
"Your splendid work and the fruit of it, which are apparent in your community, must afford you more gratification than the stamp of our approval ever can."
In 1921, President Warren G. Harding declared "Hospital Day" on May 12, as an occasion for opening hospitals across the country to visitors to demonstrate methods of examination and treatment of patients.
At that time, the Harbin Hospital housed dozens of soldiers that had recently returned from service during the World War I. It was decided that Hospital Day would be an appropriate time for the staff and patients to wear red poppies honoring the fallen soldiers of World War I, since they would not be celebrating National Memorial Day, May 30. To southerners, the only Memorial Day had already been celebrated on April 15 (known as Confederate Memorial Day).
More than a dozen nurses conducted visitors on tours of the hospital from the basement to the fireproof roof. In the basement were the laboratory, X-Ray rooms, the kitchen and the dining room.
In 1919, the Harbin Hospital had been the recipient of a philanthropic gift from J. P. Cooper (local cotton broker and founder of Darlington School) of one hundred milligrams of radium, and a deep X-Ray therapy machine, costing $11,000. Very few places in the country offered cancer patients the innovative treatment of radiation therapy. The Hospital Day 1921 records showed that 106 patients had been given radium treatment since the program's inception.
Other records displayed to the public on that day included the hospital statistics for the month of April 1921.
1. Number of patients having completed physical examination by two or more physicians...160
2. Laboratory examinations...433
3. X -Ray examinations...240
4. Patients admitted to hospital...145
5. Average stay of each in hospital...9.3 days
7. Patients given radium treatment...13
The Harbin Hospital's staff at that time included:
The physicians that practiced at the Harbin Hospital at that time included Drs. R. M. and W. P. Harbin, W. H. Lewis, William J. Shaw, Ross P. Cox, George B. Smith, J. Turner McCall, J. C. Wafts, A. C. Shamblin and M. M. McCord.
The Harbin Hospital has associated many fine physicians through the years who contributed a great deal of medical knowledge and expertise thus keeping the hospital progressive.
An article in the October 31, 1919, Rome Tribune-Herald proclaims, "Harbin Hospital Secures Services of Dr. W. H. Lewis; Famous Diagnostician from Mayo Clinic joins local staff."
Dr. Lewis came to the Harbin Hospital in the spring of 1920 to establish the department of internal medicine and diagnosis. He had just returned from a tour of German prison camps after World War I at the request of the United States government to report on sanitary conditions there.
Many other distinguished physicians were associated with the hospital over the-years including Drs. B. S. Branham, C. L. Betts, W. J. Shaw, R. P. Cox, G. B. Smith, M.D. (the father of two Rome physicians, Dr. Lucius Smith, Radiologist and Dr. Steve Smith, Pediatrician), J. T. McCall, A. C. Shamblin, M. M. McCord, J. H. Mull, E. J. Radcliffe and R. C. Maddox.
In 1925, the Harbin Hospital's eighth biennial report told of an innovative orthopedic program that followed the treatment of bone fractures with physiotherapy (known today as physical therapy). Miss W. Watson who had received her training at the Boston City Hospital was in charge of the physiotherapy department that offered such treatments as diathermia, auto-condensation and massage.
Dr. Will Harbin distinguished himself as a surgeon by performing the first Caesarean section ever done in Floyd County. He also did the first blood matching and blood transfusion and performed the first goiter operation in Floyd County. Harbin Hospital bought the first X-ray machine ever owned in Rome and made the first X-ray pictures, including the first dental films.
Dr. Robert Harbin died in 1939, and Dr. Will suffered a fatal heart attack in his office at the Harbin Hospital on November 5, 1942.
During the 1930's and 40's, the third generation of Harbin physicians returned to practice in Rome. Dr. R. M. Harbin's son, Robert Maxwell Harbin, Jr., M.D. returned in 1930. Dr. Will Harbin's three sons also returned; William P. Harbin, Jr., M.D., in 1932; Dr. Bannester Lester Harbin, Sr., M.D., in 1933, and Dr. Thomas Shelor Harbin, M.D. in 1946, after service in the Navy in World War II.
Founding Members - The Harbin Clinic July 1, 1948
Pictured L-R, Standing: Dr. Tom Harbin, Dr. Warren Gilbert,
Dr. Edward Bosworth, Dr. Lester Harbin.
Seated L-R: Dr. William Harbin and Dr. Robert Harbin
With an expansion of the county owned facility, Floyd Hospital, to 120 beds, the decision was made in 1948 to transform the Harbin Hospital into a medical clinic, where physicians would see and treat patients on an out-patient basis with no overnight care.
The 1948 change prompted extensive renovation within the 40 year old building, including an air-condition system, and tearing down the original Harbin Hospital (now the nurse's dormitory) to make room for more parking. The Harbin Hospital School of Nursing was also discontinued at this point.
The 1948 Rome News Tribune offered this statement, " the clinic will be a unique establishment for this section, offering a complete unit of doctors and all medical facilities available under one roof." The clinic was to offer complete diagnostic and treatment facilities including radium, enlarged laboratories, X-ray, and electrocardiographic equipment.
The staff of the Harbin Clinic in 1948 included: Dr. Robert M. Harbin, Jr., Dr. William P. Harbin, Jr., Dr. Lester Harbin, Dr. George B. Smith, Dr. Warren Gilbert, Dr. Ed Bosworth, Dr. Tom Harbin, Dr. C. J. Wyatt and Dr. Robert J. Black.
In 1969, a "contemporary" 34,000 square foot building was built on an eight acre tract obtained from Berry College at the corner of Martha Berry Boulevard and Redmond Road. The new clinic was "a joint venture of the staff of the clinic to help meet the growing demand for medical services in the northwest Georgia area," a spokesman said.
The 1969 building provided office space for twenty doctors and a dentist, plus central services and a leased pharmacy operated by Enloe Drug Stores.