Emergency Medicine

40th Reunion

40th Reunion at Kemper Museum of Modern Art--May 4, 2013
40th Reunion at Kemper Museum of Modern Art–May 4, 2013
40th Anniversary of the Founding of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program:


W. Kendall McNabney, M.D., Peter Rosen, M.D. (Speaker) and Matt Gratton, M.D.
W. Kendall McNabney, M.D., Peter Rosen, M.D. (Speaker) and Matt Gratton, M.D.

The Residency Program was founded in 1973 by W. Kendall McNabney, M.D. and its first class began with 3 intrepid residents.  40 years later we celebrated.


On May 3rd the McNabney Lectureship was given by Peter Rosen, M.D. one of the founding fathers of emergency medicine in the U.S.  In addition to founding other residency programs, he was the founding editor of one of the classic textbooks of emergency medicine, now known as “Rosen’s Textbook of Emergency Medicine.”


On May 4th, an anniversary party was held at the Kemper Museum of Modern Art and was attended by 5 of the 6 chairs of EM here at UMKC School of Medicine and University Health Truman Medical Center.  The band, whose name remains uncertain, comprised of 5 “ER Docs”, 4 of whom are graduates of our program, played until late.  Comments from the prior chairs are included:


W Kendall McNabney, MD (1970-1986)


W. Kendall McNabney, M.D. at the reunion
W. Kendall McNabney, M.D. at the reunion

Forty years later I would like to say I was visionary and just knew that emergency medicine was the wave of the future and that it would attract the best medical students, coming out of the best medical schools and contribute to the best environment for meaningful life-saving patient care and be one of the best models for medical education and acute-care research. But the truth is: In 1970, as a surgeon returning from Vietnam, I was hired to develop a trauma care program at Kansas City General Hospital (“by the way that includes the ER”)!  Hospital administrators liked to say the ER was the front door to the hospital and then staff it with veteran RNs and new interns who rotate every month and internal “moonlighting” by residents. Truman Medical Center (nee KCGHMC) in 1970 was taking off with new leadership and a new medical school partner. They were ready for change and were supportive of virtually everything I wanted.  It was a great personal ride and for 16 years I enjoyed that ride. However, I also knew that I was holding back tremendous talent for leadership, reference the names who followed me as Chair. To have stepped aside in 1986 and know what followed in emergency medicine and EMS at TMC-UMKC, I guess I was visionary. Congratulations on the 40 years! Since I am now a consumer of health care, I am counting on you for another 20 or so!


William A Robinson, MD (1986-1996)

The most rewarding aspect of being in a mentor role is to see the accomplishments of the individuals whom you have had the honor to provide some modicum of guidance. In that regard, the Truman Medical Center Emergency Medicine Program has provided me with an endless source of rewards as I watch with pride the accomplishments and contributions of all of you and realize that I was lucky enough to be a part of it.  To those of you I have known and those of you who have come later, thank you for upholding the strong tradition of competence and integrity started by Dr. McNabney and fostered by those of us who followed.


Mark T Steele, MD (1996-2000)

My Chair tenure covered a period of relative stability and academic productivity for the department, but was a time of significant transition and volatility for the hospital and University.  I assumed the role of Interim Chair after my good friend and mentor, Bill Robinson, announced that he would be stepping down and relocating to Bozeman, Montana. Just prior to this, the long time CEO of TMC, Dr. James Mongan, who in his later years here was also serving as Dean of the School of Medicine, also announced that he would be leaving to become the CEO of Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Andy Anderson was recruited to replace him.  Dr Anderson was a three-star General form the US Air Force. After his arrival, unrest quickly ensued and before I knew it, he was relieved from his duties as Dean by the Chancellor of the University and then he initiated actions to remove three department chairs from their positions who were allegedly instigators of the insurrection. As you might imagine, this was quite an eye- opener for this new young Chair. After some uncomfortable and unpleasant times over the course of a couple of years, Dr. Anderson and the involved Chairs moved on and the decision was made to once again separate the positions of CEO and Dean. During this period, I had the honor of being elected President of the TMC Medical Staff.  I was in this role when Mr. John Bluford, our current CEO, came on board with the hospital. Because Mr Bluford was not a physician, the hospital needed a Medical Director. Long story short, I got pegged for the new position and, as a result, had to resign my position as departmental Chair.   Also noteworthy during my tenure was the passage and implementation of new federal legislation, referred to as the Balanced Budget Act of 1996, which created new economic realities and pressures for academic medical centers and significantly changed documentation and resident supervision requirements. I would also highlight the promotion of Bob Schwab to Vice Chairman of the department and the recruitment of John Ma to the faculty–both future Chairs of the department.


Robert A Schwab, MD (2000-2006)

My tenure as Chair was marked by expansion – first, as we expanded the faculty so that we could move into the era of double-coverage, then as we expanded the resident complement, and finally as we designed and built a significantly larger physical plant for emergency services.   Faculty recruitment was (and probably remains) a difficult task that involved patching together full-time and part-time local faculty to fill the clinical schedule, as well as trying to identify complementary talents that enabled us to meet our clinical, educational, research, and service missions.  Expansion of the residency provided more flexibility for curricular innovations as well as meeting educational/service needs.  The physical plant expansion was a collaborative effort among TMC and UMKC administration, TMC Foundation, our faculty and staff, and the construction folks.  In the end, I think we got a facility (clinical, administrative, and educational) that will serve the department well.  Of course, it won’t be long until more space is needed, but that is a sign of progress and not a cause for disappointment.


O John Ma, MD (2006-2007)

My favorite memories during my years (1998-2006) at Truman Medical Center revolve around several special individuals: Linda Bell and Marian Hardin, two ED clerks who always helped keep the “rhythm” of my shifts going smoothly; Beth Boone, an incredibly talented and resourceful nurse; Jayna Ross, the most dedicated person at TMC; Mark Hoffmann, a tremendously gifted and fun-loving resident; Jeff Glaspy, a colleague who has become one of my closest friends; and Robert Schwab, who remains my mentor and trusted friend. Many thanks for your influence on my life and career.


Matthew C Gratton, MD (2007-present)

I am just beginning my seventh year as Chair.  I am happy to say that the pleasure outweighs the pain.  If I live long enough, I may be able to complete my “Ten-Year Plan” modeled on one of my “old” mentors, Dr Bill Robinson.  The world of Emergency Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri, has changed in the last 40 years in multiple ways:  AIDS (didn’t exist when EM started), Legionnaires’ Disease, Toxic Shock, PCI for Myocardial Infarction, thrombolytics for stroke, bombs and bioterrorism (OK, they existed, but now we train for them), organized EMS system (at least in Kansas City, Missouri), Truman Medical Center and the list goes on.  The ED continues to expand:  65,000+ visits per year, 30 residents, 19 (count them, 19) faculty, plus some part-timers.  Some faculty triple-coverage!  A new logo and motto: “ex traditione, exellentia” – look it up.  We now have a new EMS Section with EMT and Paramedic training programs.  Some things never change:  great residents who keep the old faculty young; outstanding faculty; excellent support staff; interested medical students.  I am proud to help us all uphold the tradition of excellence that began with our founding chair, Dr McNabney.  And always remember:  “It’ll get better when we move into the new building!”

Mark Steele, M.D., Matt Gratton, M.D., W. Kendall McNabney, M.D., Peter Rosen, M.D., William Robinson, M.D., Robert Schwab, M.D.
Mark Steele, M.D., Matt Gratton, M.D., W. Kendall McNabney, M.D., Peter Rosen, M.D., William Robinson, M.D., Robert Schwab, M.D.