UH Rainbow Establishes the George H. Thompson, MD Distinguished Chair in Orthopaedics
February 24, 2021
Pediatric Orthopaedic Update | Winter 2021
How do you summarize a career spanning 40 years of excellence in surgical skills, clinical advancements, teaching, research, advancement of international societies, and friendships developed all over the world? George H. Thompson, MD may have “retired” from our department in January of 2019 but he will never truly retire from the field of pediatric orthopaedics or from the legacy that follows him.
January 1, 1979, one day after finishing his fellowship in Pediatric Orthopaedics, Dr. Thompson began working at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Metro Health Medical Center. This followed his residency training at UCLA and the fellowship he “stumbled into” at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto by washing dishes one night with world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon Bob Salter. When he interviewed for his position at Case Western Reserve University, he met with the chair of the department briefly, told him he would think about the position, and found out the next week that they had put him on the letterhead. Forty years later he has amassed a stunning number of accomplishments:
- President of POSNA
- President of SRS (for two years)
- AAOS Traveling Fellowship
- Heune Award winner
- POSNA Board of Directors
- President of the SICOT Foundation
- SRS Lifetime Achievement Award
- POSNA Lifetime Achievement Award
- Society of 1866 Award (CWRU)
- Robert M. Campbell Award (Pediatric Spine Study Group)
- Medical Director of the Shrine Hospital System
- Creation of the George H. Thompson, MD Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics
Dr. Thompson has been a visiting professor or guest lecturer 153 times, has 195 peer review published journal articles, 91 published textbook chapters, 4 Textbooks Edited, 2 published Clinical Symposiums, 28 published editorial comments, 86 Scientific Exhibits at National and International conferences, 60 published abstracts, and produced 3 Audiovisual programs. He has been an Instructional Course Chairman of 30 courses. He has given more than 1,000 lectures. He is a consultant reviewer presently for five journals. He has served on seven editorial boards. He is presently the Co-Editor of the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics (since 2004) and the past Deputy Editor for the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. All of this means that his efforts helped far more than each child he saw individually – he changed children’s lives all over the world for many years.
No matter when or where he presented, Dr. Thompson was always SO PROUD that he was representing UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. He displays the “Rainbow Hospital” logo in each and every one of his PowerPoint presentations! He takes immense pride in Rainbow and the mission of treating children with the highest level of care.
While Dr. Thompson is widely recognized for his work in spinal deformity, he would tell you that he is really a hip surgeon! He is an expert in Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and devised the Salter/Thompson classification for this disorder. He taught many future pediatric orthopaedists how to do a pelvic osteotomy for treatment of this disease.
Dr. Thompson deeply cares about his patients and their families. He believes it is an honor to care for children. His honesty and humanity have created deep bonds between he, his patients and their families.
Two of the forces behind his career and accomplishments are the women in his life: his wife, Janice and his nurse, Connie Poe-Kochert. He owes much of his success to their support. He also has been blessed with four children - Brian, Scott, Kathy, and Brad - and seven grandchildren.
Besides all of this, George is the most humble and down-to-earth guy with a wicked and often self-deprecating sense of humor. He and Janice have hosted many enjoyable social events at their home. His friendliness has reached beyond age ranges, across national borders, and into the hearts of everyone he meets. His support and mentorship have changed our lives and careers, and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude that would be echoed by all who have the privilege of working with him. Every single friend he has made throughout his time has been greeted with that familiar phrase, “How ya doing?”
Dr. Thompson worked tirelessly, using each minute of the day being productive. He can finish editing a manuscript or contributing to a publication five minutes before getting on an airplane. He still travels nationally and internationally, giving lectures, participating in Pediatric Orthopaedic meetings, and served as the Chief Medical Officer of the entire Shriner’s hospital system. Even at the end of his career, he would return home from an international flight at midnight and be at the hospital by 7 am the next morning for a full day of surgery. He has continued with this rigorous schedule his entire career, ignoring jet lag and lack of sleep, when a lesser mortal would burn out quickly.
That drive is what led to this epic, productive, and successful career over the last 40 years. Now that he is “retired,” we hope he manages to relax a LOT MORE, enjoy himself, spend lots of time bugging Janice, and occasionally come in to the office so we don’t miss him too much!
Tags: Pediatric orthopaedics