Dr. Robert Harris Appointed
New Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma at Grady Memorial Hospital
ATLANTA -- Robert M. Harris, MD, associate professor of medicine at
the Emory University School of Medicine in the Department of Orthopaedics
and former U.S. Army orthopaedic surgeon, is the new chief of orthopaedic
surgery/trauma at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Harris has already introduced
a new focus on teamwork, efficiency and research to the orthopaedic
unit, in an attempt to bring a new level of patient care to Grady patients,
who can include persons from across the state of Georgia and throughout
the Southeast. As the new chief of orthopaedics, his plans include hiring
staff to establish an orthopaedic clinical trials research database
to advance future patient care in this specialty, and aggressively marketing
the Department of Orthopaedics to prospective patients living outside
of Fulton and DeKalb counties.
"This was a good challenge
for me at the midpoint of my career to try to turn the Orthopaedic Department
at Grady into something that is productive, academically active and
provides the best possible care anywhere in a timely fashion," Dr. Harris
said. "My philosophy is that we’re here to take care of the patients
first, to do the right thing, and to provide the best possible care
in the entire Southeast," he said.
Since coming to Grady in
November 2002, Dr. Harris has added new staff including Lisa Cannada,
MD, an orthopaedic traumatologist and chief of spine trauma. The staff
also includes George Wright, MD, who handles adult reconstruction, hand
and upper extremity; and Gary McGillivary, MD, a hand surgeon. Sanda
Tomak, MD, and Justin Cashman, MD, will both join the department in
February as foot and ankle specialists.
As the new chief of orthopaedics,
Dr. Harris says that some of his primary goals include increasing efficiency
in the operating room. As part of this effort, three teams of nurses
and scrub technicians have been hired to staff orthopaedic operating
rooms three to four days each week.
"What this does is improve
efficiency in the operating room so we’re not changing schedules at
the last minute," Dr. Harris explained. "We make sure that patients
are fully prepared to go to the operating room before we actually post
them. And there’s no delay or cancellation of cases based on the orthopaedic
Dr. Harris has mandated that
at least 75 percent of operating rooms start on time, with no changes
in the schedule, while one room is kept flexible for trauma surgery.
Dr. Harris has also revamped
the team concept, in that the Department of Orthopaedics has gone from
three teams to two teams. There are now four residents per team, with
three permanent staff per team. As a staff-directed, resident-run service,
a staff physician is responsible for every patient on the orthopaedic
Dr. Harris plans for the
Department of Orthopaedics to increase its academic emphasis to remain
on the leading edge of orthopaedic patient care and resident training.
Trauma lectures are held on Tuesday afternoons, case reports are presented
on Thursdays, and quality assurance conferences are held quarterly on
His other goal includes research.
Dr. Harris is looking for many sources of research funding from the
Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health. He is also
examining the possibility of research teams to evaluate the quality
of care being provided at Grady.
Dr. Harris is also focused
on hiring staff to establish and maintain a prospective orthopaedic
database, and is currently working with David Feliciano, MD, Emory University
School of Medicine professor and chief of surgery at Grady, to create
a database from which the Department of Orthopaedics can operate. He
also plans to hire research assistants to assist in the effort.
Dr. Harris received his undergraduate
degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and his medical
degree from the University of Virginia. He completed his orthopaedic
residency at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. He was
then assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was staff orthopaedic surgeon
and orthopaedic surgeon for the Special Operations Unit.
As part of his army training,
Dr. Harris has served in Somalia, Haiti, and the Persian Gulf. "I’ve
seen some real world casualties," he said. Dr. Harris completed his
orthopaedic fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center at Dallas. From there, he worked at the U.S. Army Institute of
Surgical Research, where he supervised a research lab, and then directed
the orthopaedic trauma service at the Brooke Army Medical Center, which
handled 40 percent of the city’s trauma cases in San Antonio. The medical
team there conducted several prospective studies in orthopaedic trauma,
landmine injuries and Department of Defense-sponsored work in protective
equipment with people involved in de-mining activities around the world.
In 2000, Dr. Harris accepted
a position at Fort Detrick in Maryland, where he continued his research
in landmines. He also served on the trauma staff at the University of
Maryland-Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore, which sees as many as 7,000
patients every year. He was on faculty at the University of Miami and
worked as an orthopaedic trauma surgeon the Ryder Trauma Center in Florida.
His experience also includes the U.S. Army Trauma Training Center at
Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where the main mission was to train
the army surgical teams going to Afghanistan.
Dr. Harris plans to market
the Department of Orthopaedics to prospective patients throughout the
state of Georgia. "Since we are the largest trauma center in the state
of Georgia and have the expertise that most others don’t, we hope to
attract some of the more larger or complex injuries to come to Grady.
We just want to get the word out there that we are here, we’re the ones
who can take care of the stuff that nobody else can."
His plans also include working
to establish step-down units within Grady as part of a total care package
that includes evaluation and surgical management. Dr. Harris also wants
to locate funding for uninsured trauma patients, and envisions the Department
of Orthopaedics being part of a super-specialized trauma center in five
to 10 years.
"I have big plans for this
place," he said.