When the actuary in Ohio found out his trauma surgeon was moving to Nebraska,
he drove several hundred miles to York Hospital in Pennsylvania to say goodbye.
That's just the kind of attachment and fondness Keith Clancy, M.D., evokes.
The man had hit a deer months earlier as he drove through Pennsylvania; it
smashed through his windshield. He had facial fractures. He had head injuries.
And he had a trauma surgeon he credits with saving his life-Dr. Clancy.
Keith Clancy grew up on Long Island. He worked as a paramedic in the South
Bronx before medical school. Today Dr. Clancy is in Omaha, relocating from York
Hospital to Alegent Creighton Health Creighton University Medical Center where
he serves as trauma medical director and director of trauma services for Alegent
Creighton Health. He is also an Alegent Creighton Clinic physician. He smiles
when he thinks of the Ohio man-and others. "I still get letters from patients
I had 10 years ago," he says.
Trauma work has been his passion for years. Dr. Clancy graduated from Creighton
University's School of Medicine in 1992 and completed his residency and a fellowship
at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, followed by a fellowship at
the University of Miami. He's board certified in surgical critical care and
general surgery and his specialty is trauma surgery. "I walked into medical
school knowing I wanted to be a trauma surgeon," he says. He appreciates the
comprehensive care that trauma involves--"from injury prevention to early resuscitative
care, operative care in the OR, critical care in the ICU, continuing care and
He has good things to say about CUMC's trauma team: "This is an incredibly
committed team to trauma care. Dr. (R. Armour) Forse did a tremendous job of
keeping everything together the last few years. The esprit de corps is outstanding."
He also has big plans for CUMC's Level 1 Trauma Center, already the busiest
trauma center in the region, admitting 1,476 patients in 2012, up more than
10 percent from the year before."I want to be the premier trauma provider in
the region. I foresee high quality patient-centered care, every patient, every
One immediate change will be the trauma center's involvement with the American
College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP). The program helps
trauma centers track outcomes and improve patient care by providing risk-adjusted
benchmarking. Only 160 of about 500 trauma centers in the country participate.
Dr. Clancy says his former hospital's participation helped the trauma team recognize
that it had one-third fewer deaths than expected statistically. "Over time,
this will benchmark us against the best trauma centers in the country"--and
will help CUMC identify areas where the team needs to improve. "It's essential
for us to be part of this and will objectively demonstrate the quality of care
we provide," he says.
Dr. Clancy also says CUMC is in the early stages of adding trauma surgeons
and sub-specialists. Demand for trauma centers is increasing everywhere, he
says, but no one can explain why. And few are calling attention to the need
for great trauma care. "We have an identity crisis in trauma across the country."
He says there are constant fundraisers for the heart association, the cancer
society, for breast cancer and so on, "but very few are having galas to raise
money for trauma."
Trauma work is also unique in that the team doesn't know the patient at all
when he arrives in the rescue squad or is flown in on LifeNet. But Dr. Clancy
says that changes quickly. He gets to know not only the patient but also family
members. And often, they bond--like the Ohio actuary who just had to say goodbye
to Dr. Clancy as he headed to Omaha.
He remembers fondly a 17-year-old who ran away from home and fell in with the
"wrong crowd." Dr. Clancy met him after someone shot him four times and he was
flown in by medical helicopter. After removing two feet of the teen's small
intestine, part of his large intestine and part of his lung, Dr. Clancy reconstructed
his abdominal wall a year later. In all, he performed a dozen surgeries on the
teen. The appreciative family gave Dr. Clancy a black tie decorated with yellow
M&Ms and a stethoscope. They continue to send Christmas cards every year.
Dr. Clancy wants people to know that his trauma team is about excellence and
will do everything possible to save lives: "I want to provide the care I would
want my family to get if I were out of town. Whether someone is a VIP or a down-and-outer,
I want to provide the same high quality of care."