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VOL. 124 | NO. 88 | Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Campbell Clinic Celebrates 100 Years

By Tom Wilemon

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CLINIC HEADQUARTERS: The headquarters of Campbell Clinic is at 1400 S. Germantown Road in Germantown, but the 100-year-old orthopedics practice also has offices in Desoto County, Collierville and on the campus of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMPBELL CLINIC

The medical practice Dr. Willis Campbell founded in Memphis in 1909 ushered the medical device industry into the city and continues to keep the Mid-South at the forefront of orthopedics.

Campbell Clinic is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year at a time when the business is at the head of the class, so to speak. Its chief of medical staff, Dr. James H. Beaty, has just completed a term as president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. “The Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics” textbook remains a widely used resource for orthopedic surgery.

Also, the clinic has more physicians than any other orthopedics practice in the city and is recruiting new talent, including a surgeon with expertise on elbow procedures.

Leader of the pack

Today, medical device companies, such as Medtronic Inc., Smith & Nephew and Wright Medical Group Inc. employ thousands of people in the Memphis area. That’s in part because Willis Campbell put Memphis on the map in regard to orthopedics, said Leigh Anne Downs, director of Life Science Business Development for the Greater Memphis Chamber.

“Every orthopedic surgeon or person that is involved in orthopedics is familiar with Campbell Clinic in one way or another, largely because of the orthopedic textbooks that was written by Dr. Willis Campbell back in 1939,” Downs said. “They are familiar with Campbell Clinic because they either worked for Campbell or have studied out of that manual or are familiar with Dr. Campbell himself. I really feel that Campbell is just a cornerstone for that whole industry. Having them in Memphis is a selling point. It shows that we do have a center of excellence within Memphis for orthopedics.”

Campbell actually began practicing medicine in Memphis in 1906 as a pediatrician and also did research on anesthesia, according to “From Saddlebags to Science: A Century of Health Care in Memphis 1830-1930,” written by Patricia M. LaPointe for the Health Sciences Museum Foundation.

After deciding to enter the field of orthopedic surgery, Campbell went to London, Vienna, Boston and New York to study, LaPointe wrote.

INDUSTRY LEADER: Campbell Clinic has been a leader in the orthopedics industry in Memphis since being founded 100 years ago. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMPBELL CLINIC

Three years after leaving Memphis, he returned to practice again. Besides his work at the clinic, Campbell served as chief of staff at the Crippled Children’s Hospital School and the Hospital for Crippled Adults, according to LaPointe’s book. He also organized the Department of Orthopedic Surgery after the University of Tennessee College of Medicine moved to Memphis in 1911.

“In the days before antibiotics, polio vaccine and other kinds of chemotherapy, hundreds of children in the Mid-South suffered from tuberculosis, osteomylitis, infective arthritis and poliomyelitis,” LaPointe wrote. “In the rural South, most families of these afflicted children were poor and could not afford expensive, long-term medical treatment. Medical attention was provided at no cost to these children.”

Physicians from the U.S. and Canada began coming to Memphis to learn about Campbell’s work. In 1933, he was one of the founders of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and that same year became the organization’s first president to be elected in an open meeting, according to the academy’s Web site. Willis published his manual for orthopedics surgery in 1939, two years before his death.

Legacy continues

The surgeons from his clinic have kept the textbook updated. The editors of the most recent version, the 11th edition, are Dr. S. Terry Canale and Beaty. Canale is chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Tennessee-Campbell Clinic and chief of orthopedics at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center.

The clinic has a residency program and fellowship program for young orthopedics surgeons. More than 450 surgeons have received training in these programs.

The clinic carries on Campbell’s vision for patient care, physician education and medical research, Beaty said.

“We’ll be approaching 40 physicians this year,” Beaty said. “We have three (new physicians) who will be joining us in August. We have 40 young orthopedic surgeons who are in training at the same time, who are going through their residency program, so we’re almost one-to-one.”

One of the surgeons joining the staff is Dr. Thomas “Quin” Throckmorton, who has completed a fellowship at Mayo Clinic and has expertise in elbow reconstruction.

“I think he’s the first physician who has come to the Memphis area that’s fellowship-trained in both shoulder and elbow,” Beaty said. “That’s a very unique fellowship beyond residency training. That’s really why we recruited him.”

Campbell Clinic is a supporter of another local medical entity, the InMotion Musculoskeletal Institute, which was started a few years ago by Memphis Tomorrow and the Campbell Foundation to position Memphis as a center of excellence in orthopedic research.

“If you look around the United States right now, there are a number of cities that are trying to do that very same thing,” Beaty said. “They realize that musculoskeletal health care is going to increase so much during the next 30 years because of us baby boomers. That care is going to be given in even larger volumes as time goes on.”

He’s confident that Memphis will be at the forefront of that movement.

“We are fortunate that Memphis has such a strong medical community in general,” Beaty said. “We are certainly proud to be a part of that and have nothing but pride in celebrating our 100th anniversary of being a part of that community.”

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