After 17 years in Springfield and 32 years providing general and orthopedic care to patients around the world, HSHS Medical Group’s Keith Gabriel, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, has retired.
Dr. Gabriel’s career, which includes serving in the U.S. Navy, has taken him from Oakland, California, to the Philippines, Okinawa, Cincinnati and Central Illinois. In Springfield since 2002, Dr. Gabriel joined HSHS Medical Group Pediatric Orthopedics in 2013. “I would say that there was a robust, a very good pediatric orthopedic program in place,” he recalls. “It was under the flag of SIU, but Dr. John Fisk and Dr. Charles Eberle really had a thriving practice. And John Fisk, especially, was a real leader and a real mentor to me when I arrived. I hope that I have helped maintain that team.”
A cohesive team is key
When looking back on his time with HSHS Medical Group and HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Dr. Gabriel was quick to praise the team he worked with. “We’ve had very good nurses and ancillary staff, our medical assistants, our front desk people have always been really special,” he said. “I’d like to give a shout out to the OR team at St. John’s; they’re really good.
“As a surgeon, you have a special relationship with the people you work with in the operating room,” he continued. “We depend on one another. I think that the team at St. John’s is outstanding. The OR is very accommodating to the special needs of children, especially the timing of the surgery. Children can’t wait like adults can wait; they can’t be without food and water. They don’t understand, and their bodies are physiologically different; they don’t tolerate being dehydrated. So the operating room and the anesthesiology team understands this and makes special accommodations for children.”
Dr. Gabriel also commended the staff in the preoperative area. He said they go out of their way to make children and families comfortable. “For my kids as they’re going back to the OR, we always have a bubble parade,” he said. “Two or three people will blow bubbles as the children are leaving their parents to try to distract them.”
Working with children
Dr. Gabriel started practicing as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in 1987, and, as he said, “I have two biologic children, but I have thousands of kids.”
What he loved most about working with kids was never having to grow up. “The kids keep you young,” Dr. Gabriel said. “You can enjoy them for their unique characteristics, and they don’t have any secondary gain in mind. Children just want to play and then play some more.”
His commitment to providing care to kids who need it has been unwavering throughout his career. “The children of Central Illinois deserve care in Central Illinois,” Dr. Gabriel said. “It’s been a real privilege to work at St. John’s; it’s been a privilege to work with a faith-based organization.”
“There’s still a little bit of missionary work I’d like to do,” Dr. Gabriel said when asked about his retirement plans. “There’s a lot of yard work, and there’s national parks I’ve never seen. And I hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors, so I don’t have any big projects.”
“HSHS Medical Group would like to thank Dr. Gabriel for his commitment to the children of Central Illinois and wish him the best as he begins this next chapter,” said Melinda Clark, CEO, HSHS Medical Group.