Dr. Charles Shubin, a Mercy Medical Center pediatrician who fought child abuse and neglect, died of an obstruction Dec. 28 at Sinai Hospital. He was 79 and lived in Cheswolde and later in Pikesville.
“He was a reliable friend and a trusted mentor among his physician colleagues and to Mercy’s entire leadership team and our Board of Trustees,” Mercy president Tom Mullen said in a letter to staff. “Dr. Shubin was steadfast and committed to both his profession and to the community he served, providing compassionate care to families from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods.”
Dr. Shubin, a former chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, was a founding member of the Baltimore City Child Fatality Review Team. He recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maryland Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics. He was also the volunteer school pediatrician at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for nearly 50 years.
Dr. Shubin had a national media profile and appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “ABC World News Tonight,” NBC’s “Today,” “Fox Report” and PBS. He was quoted by The Associated Press and parenting magazines and newspapers.
“He was an advocate for children’s safety, too and he knew how to deliver his message to the media,” Mercy spokesman Dan Collins said. “He understood sound bites."
Mr. Collins also said: “Dr. Shubin was born on Halloween and would often speak out about childhood safety on that day. He advised healthy eating, costume safety and making sure parents supervise activities. Everything he spoke about was what would have been the best interests for the child. He kept a sign in his office, ‘Never, never shake a child.’ ”
Dr. Shubin was not a fan of sixth grade boys playing contact football.
“My father once got into a dispute with Charlie Gibson on the air about the risk of concussion to middle schoolers playing contact football, and it definitely got heated," said his son, Evan Shubin of Potomac. “My dad felt that boys’ bodies had not fully developed when they were 11 or 12 and they were still growing. If a boy took a bad hit, the damage could be serious and lasting."
He also warned that students shouldn’t carry heavy backpacks.
"Every fall, in the beginning of a semester, especially with the ninth graders, we’ll get a flurry of kids coming in complaining their back hurts, apparently not realizing why," he said in a 2017 Baltimore Sun article. "I didn’t believe they would weigh as much as they did. We found bags in the 50- to 60-pound range. ... Books weigh a lot.”
Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of Dr. Harry Shubin, an internist, and his wife, Celia. He earned a degree in biology at Lehigh University and received his medical degree at Temple University. He was an intern at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, Pennsylvania, and did a residency in pediatrics at St. Christopher Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
He met his future wife, Susan Dishler, in his home neighborhood in Philadelphia. They lived two doors from each other.
Dr. Shubin was an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University. He joined Mercy Medical Center in 1985.
He sat on the University of Maryland Child Protection Team and studied causes and etiology of abuse and potential solutions.
“He was literally an old-time, unsung hero for kids,” said Dr. Susan Dulkerian, Mercy chair of pediatrics and a member of faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “He was the consummate community pediatrician and never lost his zeal for learning. He gently led his families toward the best solutions. He used to tell me about the mothers who had called him about how they had lost a teenage child to shootings on the streets. He gave out his cellphone and had time to talk. He would just listen to people. He had a magic, empathetic ear.”
He also was quoted in news articles about children being suffocated while sleeping with a parent or older siblings, as well as the dangers of lead paint.
"My father was steadfast and committed to both his profession and to the community he served, providing compassionate care to families from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods for more than 50 years,” said his son, Evan.
Dr. Shubin was a former chief of pediatrics for the U.S. Public Health Service in Baltimore.
He helped draft legislation while serving on the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.
“Charles was a trailblazer on addressing childhood sexual abuse,” said former State Sen. Barbara Hoffman, a neighbor and friend. “A judge once said to him, ‘Fathers don’t do that.’ And he said back, ‘Oh, yes they do.’ He was an early advocate for childhood protections, and he was just an exceptional person."
The Morning Sun Newsletter
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.
Dr. Shubin taught numerous medical students. He served on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University Medical School for more than 50 years, and on the faculty of the University of Maryland Medical School for nearly 40.
His son said Dr. Shubin loved to travel and took long trips with his wife, children and grandchildren. They visited Israel, Central and South America, Russia, the Galapagos Islands, Vietnam, India, East and South Africa, among other places.
An endowed annual lecture on child abuse and neglect at Mercy Medical Center has been created in his name.
Dr. Shubin was a subscriber and contributor to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, a social worker and Legal Aid attorney; a daughter Sherri Cohen of Philadelphia; a brother, Elliot Shubin of San Francisco; and four grandsons.