I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...
I have always enjoyed the benefits of an active life style –
1. In the 60’s I was a founding member and president of the board of directors of the Nevada Heart Fitness Institute, which for over 30 years sponsored the Silver State Marathon, and several community and fitness events. I wrote a bi-weekly newspaper column on running and fitness and completed over 20 marathons.
2. As past president of the Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma Society, I have for 20 years participated in their annual orthopaedic scientific meetings combined with a one week SCUBA event.
3. I completed the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Ride in under 24 hours.
4. Since the 60’s, with my family and friends, I have enjoyed skiing in the Sierras.
5. And for 20 years I enjoyed sailing with family and friends on my CSY 44 sailboat in the Abacos.
Orthopaedic surgery, more than any other specialty, helps our patients develop and maintain an active life style, which, in turn, is one of the most basic and important factors for maintaining and enjoying good health and longevity. My interest and board certification in Anti-Aging Medicine has further confirmed this.
What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?
After nearly 40 years of very rewarding practice with the Reno Orthopaedic Clinic, in 2006 I made the decision to work part time and joined an orthopaedic colleague, Dr. Mark Rhodes in providing orthopaedic coverage at William Bee Ririe Hospital in Ely, Nevada.
Located at the eastern border of Nevada, Ely is on Highway 50 some 330 miles from my homes in Reno and Lake Tahoe, and 250 miles from the nearest orthopaedic care in either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas. An article in Life Magazine in 1986 named Highway 50 “the loneliest road in America.” To quote Life Magazine, “Its totally empty says an AAA counselor. We don’t recommend it.
The 287 mile stretch of US 50 running from Ely to Fernley, Nevada passes nine towns, two abandoned mining camps, a few gas pumps, and an occasional coyote. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident of their survival skills.”
Since 2006 I have logged over 50,000 miles on the loneliest road in America. Having been more recently joined by two additional orthopaedic colleagues, Dr. George Prutzman and Dr. Larry Mcclish. We now provide 100% orthopaedic coverage in Ely.
Our orthopaedic coverage model in Ely contrasts sharply with the level of orthopaedic care in most similar rural communities in America. Data presented by Dr. Derick Weichel in 2011 in the Journal of Rural Health confirmed that 71% of rural hospitals in his survey indicated a need for additional orthopaedic services in their community. Having been strongly motivated by our positive experience in providing orthopaedic care in Ely, Nevada, two years ago at the annual Nevada Orthopaedic Society meeting I introduced a resolution that the AAOS would conduct a study and deal with the issue of rural orthopaedic care. This resolution was passed by the Nevada Orthopaedic Society and I was recently very pleased and gratified to learn that it has been recently enacted by the AAOS.
To a degree which I have not previously experienced in private orthopaedic practice, our orthopaedic patients in Ely, along with the medical and hospital support staff, have been highly appreciative for our orthopaedic care and have been very supportive and cooperative. Our model has proven to be a big win for the patients, the community, the hospital, the medical staff, and for our orthopaedic group.
In the past several months I have had the gratifying experience of directing the successful management of a case of necrotizing fasciitis, a case of pyogenic myositis and a diabetic who experienced the spontaneous onset of an acute compartment syndrome. The successful management of these potentially high risk cases in addition to the many routine orthopaedic cases which we have the opportunity to manage in Ely, has emphasized to me, time and time again, the critical need for adequate and timely orthopaedic coverage in rural communities.
What do you like to do in your free time?
At the age of 80, I continue to enjoy hiking, skiing, scuba diving and boating on Lake Tahoe with my family and friends. I also have enjoyed engraving glass gifts for my friends with my sandblasting equipment. For several years I have enjoyed performing Mark Twain impersonations for a variety of groups. A few years ago I had the opportunity to do a Mark Twain performance for a meeting of the board of councilors at Silverado, California. I have also enjoyed needlepoint and I find that it helps to maintain my motor skills and hand – eye coordination, I would highly recommend it for orthopaedic residents!
In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?
Although we are compensated for our orthopaedic care services in Ely, Nevada, my time commitment there requires that I volunteer to be on duty there, and away from my family, 24 hours a day for a total of 17-18 weeks per year in 2 week increments. I have for 7-8 years volunteered my time and services as chairman of the board of directors of The Glenbrook Project at Glenbrook, Lake Tahoe. This is a 501-C3, non profit corporation which has successfully completed a $750,000 federal grant for fire mitigation in the Glenbrook community. The successful completion of this grant required the removal and conversion to wood chips of over 800 tons of excess, high risk, forest overgrowth, and required also a major fund raising effort from the Glenbrook community.