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Chief - Specialty Surgery Integrated Center of Clinical Excellence, Thomas Keane, MBBCH, FRCSI, FACS

Thomas E. Keane, MBBCH, FRCSI, FACS

The Specialty Surgery Integrated Center of Clinical Excellence includes a curious mix of specialty areas:

  • Dermatology
  • Spine Center
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Urology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Oral Surgery
  • ENT Facial Plastics
  • Maxillofacial Prosthodontics

Managing such a large group of disparate specialists can be a challenge. While it might seem chaotic, the diversity and crosspollination is helpful. “The ICCE organization is there to help, not hinder,” explains Keane. In the case of Specialty Surgery, in addition to quality of care, efficiency is a goal unto itself.

That’s because, unlike the other ICCEs, Specialty Surgery is 80 percent outpatient. Keane has to manage a different set of problems. “It’s a balancing act. We have to make sure the clinics are full...but not too full, so people get what they expected,” he says. “The quality of the interaction is very important. Patients don’t want to think they were just a number, shoved into a room and then kicked out.”

Not only is this ICCE complex, the specialties are also growing at a fast clip. “When I started here 16 years ago, there were three surgeons in Urology,” he notes. “Today, there are 12 surgeons, three residents a year and two fellows. Dermatology is very successful with specialized care in all skin conditions and has great potential for expansion. The ophthalmology group is about to open a shop and there are new lasers for corneal surgery.” There are other examples of progress, as well.

Keane attributes this growth and change to the new blood that’s come in.

MUSC recently acquired four hospitals in northern South Carolina. They have their own qualified surgical staffs, so Keane does not expect to have a major role there. There is, however, an opportunity to do surgical consults – particularly given MUSC’s robust telehealth network. “They can send down all the imaging, the pathology and the notes that can be discussed in our interdisciplinary tumor board – which is superb – and a recommendation made. That’s the advantage of being affiliated with MUSC for them. If it’s something that can be done up there, presumably it will be. If not, instead of sending the patient to Carolinas or Emory, it will come to us.” That growth opportunity is a boon to MUSC.