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news News Thursday, April 1, 2021 Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:47 PM - Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:47 PM

Thierry E. Benaroch is our new chief of staff

Thierry E. Benaroch is our new chief of staff

A few weeks ago, Shriners Hospitals for Children appointed Thierry E. Benaroch, M.D., MSc, FRCS (C) as the new chief of staff of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada. To get to know him better and to know a little more about his vision, we met with him.

You’ve been appointed chief of staff

This appointment means a lot to me. I started at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada in 1993 as a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon. Actually, I was first associated with the Shriners in 1986, as I had done my master’s thesis and experienced just how phenomenal this institution is. I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful success story that is so different than other hospitals. It’s remarkable to see the extent to which our entire organization across the board is centered on its patients and their families, and this stimulates you to become even more involved. When I think about everything the Shriners has brought me over the last 27 years, all I wish for is to be able to give back to the Shriners [Hospitals]. This institution is simply extraordinary and my wish is to continue the legacy that the Shriners [Hospitals] network has established since 1925.

The degree of collegiality amongst the entire staff is outstanding and is something I have never seen before in a hospital setting. What every institution seeks to obtain is peak performance in collaboration, which sums up my vision in one word. Obviously it’s much more complex than it looks but I’ll work hard to achieve my goal. I am very much in favor of harmonizing all aspects of our care and offering and perfecting the three pillars of our mission: care, education and research. My mandate is to make sure that the boat sails smoothly in the right direction while picking up wings along the way. As we head to the future, we will seize the opportunities that arise while maintaining our irreplaceable core values.

How do you see the future?

We must strengthen our presence in Quebec and Canada. Even though we can’t have a physical presence in all the provinces, we must begin to collaborate with other hospital centers because our mission is to help children no matter where they are. We have all the tools necessary to do so. We have capabilities to collaborate with a bigger number of Canadian institutions, thus ensuring a stronger presence in other communities. Even here in Montreal there’s still work to do despite our collaboration with the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the CHU Ste-Justine. I have always maintained that Shriners is the best kept secret in Montreal, and when patients and their families are involved in our hospital, they’re elated to know that an establishment like ours exists in their backyards. They’re always wowed by the quality of care they receive.

We’ve made major strides in our relationship with the Montreal Children’s Hospital. We can now operate on highly complex cases and then transfer the patients to the Children’s ICU where they have the appropriate post-op structure to care for them. Ideally, we are aiming to have our own stepdown unit to keep these more complex cases following their surgery at the [Canada] Shriners Hospital. The Montreal Children’s Hospital handles everything trauma-related and the Shriners [Hospital] deals with elective pediatric orthopaedics. The connection between the two institutions is consolidated by our joint affiliation with McGill University. We also collaborate with CHU Ste-Justine. However, there is no university affiliation. Nevertheless, one of my goals is for Ste-Justine and the Shriners [Hospital] to collate our complicated cases together. This has already been started with complex young spinal deformity cases.

The Shriners [Hospital] is the hub of McGill Orthopedic Residency Education. Orthopedic residents, fellows, nurses and rehabilitation staff members use our conference rooms, simulation center and motion analysis center to enhance their education. Education is critical in order to continue to provide quality care, so the way in which we transfer knowledge is important. The same goes for research. We have key players, scientists, clinicians; all who are making advances in both practice and treatment.

We also have unique programs. Our osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) program is synonymous with excellence and has an incredible international reputation. The research and treatments we offer for arthrogryposis are also at the forefront in Canada and the U.S. We have a very active spine service which deals with extremely complex spine deformities. What’s more, we’re currently establishing a sports medicine program which will be extremely competitive and eventually become a referral center for Canadian teen athletes.

On a personal note, one of my objectives is to create a hip surveillance program for children with cerebral palsy to ensure that hips do not dislocate. The idea is to do early hip reconstructive surgery to maintain normal anatomy of the hip. I have witnessed too many older teenagers with severely destroyed, dislocated hips which are non-reconstructable and need salvage operations. British Columbia, Australia and Switzerland have already established such programs. We have the capacity and expertise to do the same, and this type of program would be a gigantic preventive measure. Through the MUSCO initiative, our relationship with CHU Ste-Justine, Marie-Enfant Centre and the Montreal Children’s Hospital, along with other rehabilitation centers, are becoming more consolidated. This will certainly serve as a springboard to initiate this program.

What about COVID-19?

Until now the Shriners [Hospital] has been in “green zone,” and we have taken countless measures to get there. The operating room is secure, tele-health is working well, and the clinic is operating at 80% of its usual activities. We’re following the government’s directives and rhythm. The teams installed excellent preventive measures before my appointment, which I will continue to promote and support.

On a personal note, what makes you tick?

Maintaining personal contact with my patients and their families is key. I love helping patients to overcome their physical limitations and at times, able to reverse it. It is an essential part of my core and will continue to play an active role in patient care management despite my new position.

I have been an avid cycler since 1992. I was bitten by the cycling bug in Dallas, Texas, back when I was a pediatric orthopaedic fellow at Texas Scottish Rite. Since then, I do about 20,000 km a year. It’s a great way to relax, decompress and unwind. Cycling also caught on in McGill University’s Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program when I introduced an annual 70 km bike ride in 2017. I envision biking as long as my body holds out.

Thierry E. Benaroch, M.D., MSc, FRCS(C), an orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada, is also division director of pediatric orthopedics and associate professor of surgery at McGill University. He is actively involved in medical education and is regularly invited as a guest lecturer at conferences. He is the recipient of several teaching and leadership awards, including being the inaugural recipient of the Program Director Leadership Award for the Division of Orthopedic Surgery, McGill University, Faculty of Medicine, Office of Postgraduate Medical Education in 2017. His clinical interests are cerebral palsy, foot disorders including club feet, and developmental dysplasia of the hip. His clinical research focuses on hip dysplasia, club feet and certain traumatic conditions.