Surgeon With Local Family Featured In National News From Iraq

A surgeon with family in the area was featured Nov. 23 on ABC TV’s Nightline broadcast.

Army Lt. Col. Richard C. Rooney, Jr., MD, is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal procedures. He is in the middle of a tour of duty in Iraq, serving as the senior orthopedic surgeon at the 28th Combat Support Hospital, the world’s busiest military trauma hospital, located in the Green Zone of Baghdad.

ABC reporter Martha Raddatz interviewed Dr. Rooney as part of a profile on the medical facility and the ongoing challenges the medical staff face. A West Point graduate, Dr. Rooney practices medicine stateside at William Beaumont Hospital in El Paso, Texas. He is a graduate of Chillicothe High School and his father, Richard Rooney, MD, is a surgeon on staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center.

During the interview and in an article on ABC’s news website, Dr. Rooney Jr. explained how the focus has to be on stabilizing the patient to save his or her life, then salvage whatever is possible regarding the extremities. Asked how the physicians cope with the ongoing volumes of physically devastated patients, Dr. Rooney said exercise, sleep and other distractions are heavily embraced.

Back here in southern Ohio, his father and family were looking forward to the broadcast.

“They notified us on Monday that the broadcast would be on Friday,” Dr. Rooney Sr. says. “Martha Raddatz sought him out to discuss what it was like to be a surgeon in the world’s busiest trauma hospital. He shuns publicity but he showed up for a particular case and they wanted to talk to him. Usually he just wants to fade into the background. He says he just wanted his 15 minutes of anonymity.”

Dr. Rooney Jr.’s work was also featured in Associated Press reports, the New York Times and MSNBC websites regarding a boy critically injured by a bomb intended for US troops. The boy’s life was saved despite the loss of his arm and leg.

Father and son are able to communicate frequently by telephone, and the family is looking forward to his safe return in February.