UT Surgical Associates Enhance Robust Surgical Services at Hawkins County Memorial
UT Surgical Associates Enhance Robust Surgical Services at Hawkins County Memorial

Dr. TomThompson, UT Surgical Associates
Those who chose to live their lives and pursue a career close to their hometown don’t generally get asked why they live where they do.

Dr. Tom Thompson has gotten the question more times than he can count. And when he’s asked, “Why did you stay?” he has a stock answer: “Why leave?” More than ever, Northeast Tennessee is an ideal place for Thompson, a board-certified general surgeon with UT Surgical Associates, to practice his skills. He’s near the place he grew up and has shepherded a surgery program at Hawkins County Memorial Hospital into cutting-edge status that puts it on par with some hospitals more than twice its size and more.

“This is my home—I grew up in Morristown and I want the people to get surgical care in their own hospital without having to go to a bigger city,” said Dr. Thompson, a board-certified general surgeon. “We’ve got a surgical group that’s more like the kind of surgical group you’d see at a large university hospital.”

With a recent move of its offices to the Hawkins County Memorial campus, UT Surgical Associates is making it more convenient than ever for residents to choose their hometown hospital. Dr. Thompson said recent upgrades to the Hawkins County Memorial surgical suites–now among the most advanced in the region–help put the surgery program on the cutting edge.

One Hawkins County resident who needed surgery for colon cancer was leaning toward having the procedure at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, until the director of medical oncology at the Knoxville hospital told the patient and his family that UT Surgical Associates was perfectly capable of performing the surgery at Hawkins County Memorial. As a result, the patient successfully underwent one of the first laparoscopic surgeries for colon cancer at Hawkins County Memorial.

“If you need a heart bypass or transplant, you do need to go to Holston Valley or UT,” Dr. Thompson said. “If we feel a patient needs care at a tertiary referral center, we won’t hesitate to send a patient there. But for the surgery services we offer at Hawkins County Memorial, it’s our goal to offer the same high caliber surgical care at your own hospital, close to home.”

Fred Pelle is well aware of the robustness of the surgery program at Hawkins County Memorial. Dr. Stephen Wilson with Medical Associates of Rogersville has practiced at Hawkins County Memorial for years, and Thompson expresses amazement that Dr. Wilson was able to maintain such a high level of surgical services at the hospital with essentially no backup to take call when an emergency arose. The arrival a few years back of UT Surgical Associates– which, includes, along with the practice founder in Dr. Thompson, Drs. Heath Many, Jeff Nix, Paul Crawford and Daniel Drinnen—spread the caseload and made surgical services more robust. All received training at university hospitals.

“They’re training is amazing–the physicians have trained in some of the most advanced residency programs throughout the United States, from Boston to the West Coast,” Pelle said. They have traveled widely across the country for the training and education so that patients do not have to travel for their healthcare.

The members of the UT Surgical Associates are very dedicated and talented physicians and represent the best the region has to offer. Certainly, their commitment to bringing top notch surgical services to Hawkins County has meant a lot to the community.”

Good surgical skills are an imperative and the state-of-the-art surgery suites at Hawkins County Memorial are a boon as well in the scope of surgical services offered at the hospital, Thompson said. But it’s more than that, Thompson said, something that’s tied to a lasting commitment to make the hospital you’ve always known the best it can be.

“I tell our physicians to take it to heart, to picture your family when you’re practicing surgery–and don’t treat the patient like family, you make them your family,” Thompson said. “We’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We’re committed to providing the best care to the people who come to this hospital.”

June 2008