As we wrap up Women’s History Month, we want to take a moment to recognize Rita Abbud, MD.
Growing up in Lebanon as the daughter of two hard-working schoolteachers, Dr. Abbud was motivated to go into the medical field.
“My passion for medicine started because of neighbors who had hearing loss following a measles outbreak,” Dr. Abbud says.
However, the timing of Dr. Abbud’s decision to go to medical school was exactly during the Lebanese Civil war.
“I decided to go to the French university,” Dr. Abbud shares. “But I was unable to get to the exam site because of bombing. I ended up going to the American University of Beirut (AUB) and received an excellent education there.”
Unfortunately, her journey at medical school exposed her to the horrors of civil war. She witnessed the American embassy bombing and the assassination of President Malcolm Kerr. During one rotation, she served a rush of 40 military casualties pouring into the emergency room.
“During my internship rotation at AUB, I came to the U.S. to visit my sister in Pittsburgh,” Dr. Abbud says. “Then, I could not return back because the Beirut airport closed for 40 days because of war.”
She enrolled in a residency program at University of Maryland. Taking care of a young girl with rheumatic heart disease, a man with pneumococcal meningitis and learning about HIV at the beginning of its epidemic inspired Dr. Abbud to become an infectious disease specialist.
Her love for the field has culminated in treating patients with hepatitis B and C. She has been able to cure many patients with this condition, preventing them from progressing to liver cirrhosis. Besides this, Dr. Abbud also treats a broad spectrum of illnesses including HIV, pneumonia, MRSA, C. diff, diabetic foot infections, intra-abdominal infections as well as skin, bone and joint infections.
Around that time of her residency program, Dr. Abbud met the young man who would eventually become her husband, Joe. He was from Cleveland and was able to convince her to come to Ohio for a fellowship at University Health. All of this eventually led to Dr. Abbud’s 27 years of service with Mercy Health – Lorain.
Over the past two years, Dr. Abbud has been preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In many ways, COVID-19 has reminded me of back in the Lebanese war,” Dr. Abbud says. “I have been involved with infection control and research projects related to COVID-19 treatment.”
She dedicated long hours to supporting medical professionals, answering their concerns and questions, encouraging patients and caring for them. Her strong faith in God helped her go through this difficult time, and Dr. Abbud is always carrying a smile behind the mask and goggles.
Dr. Abbud is not only a fantastic physician; she is an amazing mother. During her early years as a doctor while Joe was busy with his job, she devoted herself to her children. She not only shuttled the three kids to piano, tennis and taekwondo, but because of her love of learning she took the classes herself as well – even becoming a black belt! She is devoutly religious and her family enjoys receiving daily Bible verses from her Bible app.
With family as a number one priority, Dr. Abbud inspired her four siblings and her three children to pursue medicine. Each of her three children are physicians or on their way to becoming one.
Dr. Abbud is an inspiration to women for commitment to both her family and her career. She offers this advice to young professional women looking to balance both of these things.
“Always smile and trust that God will always be by your side.”
Learn more about the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.