Madonna matters to me

Madonna matters to me

Dr. Robert Buchman (right)  joins Dr. Samuel Bierner, medical director of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program, in front of the Madonna Omaha Campus residency office. Dr. Buchman’s generous gift to Madonna helped make the Omaha Campus and the residency program a reality.

The Support

A reflection by Dr. Robert Buchman, retired thoracic surgeon and 2015 Madonna Vision Award recipient.

When I first came to Lincoln in 1972 to join the thoracic surgery practice of Dr. Steve Carveth and Dr. Herb Reese, I often checked on the group’s patients at Madonna. 

It became pretty apparent to us as physicians that the patients who were sent to Madonna tended to recover and go home, and the ones who were sent elsewhere seldom went home. That got my attention and reminded me of some of my experiences in the military. 

As a former Air Force and Army physician, I was aware that the military pioneered the concept of rehabilitation following World War II. 

Sister Phyllis, then president of Madonna, understood the power of rehabilitation and the concept was born in Lincoln. I truly believe that without Sr. Phyllis, Madonna would not be a rehabilitation hospital today. 

From a personal standpoint, my wife, Claire, had multiple operations on her back due to arthritis of the spine, so there were a lot of admissions to Madonna over the years. One thing we noticed during her admissions in the 1990s is that she seldom saw the same physician.  I mentioned to Sr. Phyllis that wouldn’t it be great if we trained physiatrists (physical medicine doctors) locally so that they could benefit from such a diverse group of patients at Madonna and maybe stay in the region to practice. 

This idea for a physiatry residency has been about 25 years in the making. A great deal of credit goes to the leadership of former CEO Marsha Lommel and Paul Dongilli for establishing the Madonna Omaha Campus which prompted the academic affiliation with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. 

It is gratifying for me to see my gift to Madonna establish a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program happen in my lifetime. What an incredible opportunity for residents to train at a world-class rehabilitation hospital with such a diverse patient base. I believe it will become one of the top-rated programs in the country. 

To read more of Dr. Buchman's reflection, click here.

Residency program a first for Nebraska

The Dr. Robert and Claire Buchman Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program is the only such program in Nebraska and a five-state region. The residency program, in partnership and collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, will accept its first class of residents in 2018. According to Paul Dongilli Jr., Ph.D., Madonna president and CEO, “This partnership brings together the expertise of two outstanding health care organizations, combining clinical medical expertise and academic training to benefit our patients. We are most grateful to Dr. Buchman for his generous gift that made the Omaha Campus and this program possible.”

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