Dr. Congeni: Hoban’s Health Hero

As a young boy, Dr. Joseph Congeni always had a passion for sports. When he saw he could mix his love of sports with medicine, he jumped at the opportunity.  After serving as a pediatric sports medicine specialist for the past 30 years at Akron Children’s Hospital,  Congeni not only jumped, he soared— becoming a local legend in his specialty.

A national expert in concussion treatment and research, Congeni has also served as team doctor for many Hoban teams over the years, building relationships with an array of Hoban students and families.

“I do find Hoban kids to be particularly engaging and I know them better because of the fact that I cover sporting events and have more of a presence at Hoban that at any other school,” Congeni said when asked about his personal experience in treating the students.

After sending all six of his children here, Congeni’s presence at Hoban still looms large today. Working as a football team physician alongside Dr. Kevin Outwater and Dr. Kevin Markowski, Congeni’s charismatic demeanor instills trust with young athletes.

“The atmosphere is very conducive to a team approach. I very much enjoyed interacting with the kids here,” he said. “I felt comfortable from the first time I set foot on the campus in 1988.”

Congeni estimates seeing 80 patients from Hoban alone last year, and believes that in the past, he’s seen even more.  While athletes of all sports see him, the larger team sports, like football, obviously see more injuries.

“Because there are more football players than other sports that is probably our biggest sports injury area but different sports have different injury patterns and that is also fun to observe through 30 years of experience,” Congeni said.

Many students can attest that Congeni treats each case and sport seriously, taking into account the patient’s overall health and wellness while broadening his knowledge of different activities.

“I also really enjoyed getting to work with kids from the city or urban areas,” Congeni said in response to the joys of his job. “They seem surprised that I take so much time with them and explain to them what’s going on. That surprises me because I tell them all the time that’s what they deserve as far as medical care,” he said.

Congeni is a true professional who loves his patients. One of his cases involves junior swimmer and baseball player Michael Heller. After seeing him, Congeni concluded that both of Heller’s kidneys were on one side of his body, causing abnormally high blood pressure.
“Dr. Congeni was very invested in my well being. He is one of the nicest doctors I have ever worked with, and without him I would have no idea that I have kidneys issues,” Heller said.

The pure desire to care for others and treat every kid as he would his own is one of the many reasons for his popularity. Heller continues to receive treatment from Akron Children’s Hospital, and has Congeni to thank for his current health status.

Recently, he had the honor of delivering the Commencement speech at Hoban’s 2017 Graduation Ceremony. In front of his youngest child, Dominic, Congeni encouraged the graduates to serve others, and established within them his innate humility.

“Those that work to help others in their community and those that lift each other up when they get knocked down and those that foster a family atmosphere find pleasure, joy, and build a meaningful life,” Congeni said.

His inspirational speech left the graduates, parents, and staff astonished. Utilizing his own life experience, he condemned the “5 P’s”- possession, pride, power and promiscuity that lead to the wrong type of pleasure. Instead, he suggested that those who use their talents to find meaning in  life receive authentic pleasure. Congeni’s commencement left the class feeling hopeful for the future, while instilling within them valuable lessons on preparation, selflessness, and right judgement. While many consider Congeni himself a gift to our Hoban family, he views Hoban as a gift to him.

“It’s also very important for me and I tried to let others on our sports medicine team know that we have a gift we’ve been given and God asks us to use it in the best way possible to help other people,” he said.

Selflessness shines through his work, and he truly believes in treating his patients to the best of his God-given ability.  Congeni’s talent is an invaluable asset in our Hoban community, as many of our athletes have him to thank for their health.

“There are new things that I see every week and every month and so I need to continue to be a lifelong learner in this field” Congeni said.

​His hunger for learning and determination should inspire not only his athletic patients, but the whole school as well. Hoban is blessed to have Dr. Joseph Congeni as our personal health hero.