Steven Koop, M.D., sits back in his chair, his long legs crossed casually, his hands folded in his lap as he listens intently to the young girl sitting across from him. He’s quiet and thoughtful as she shares her concerns about her condition.
When he speaks, Koop’s voice is tranquil. In soothing tones he lays out a treatment plan, constantly assuring her that they’ll get through this. Together.
Beneath Koop’s unassuming demeanor is a wealth of knowledge and medical expertise unmatched in pediatric specialty care. For 30 years, Koop has sat across from his patients at Gillette Children’s and helped them see possibilities.
For a lot of the kids we work with, it's not a question of restoring function or returning them to a previously typical level of activity. Rather, it's trying to understand what is possible, coupled with what is expected or hoped for.
-Steven, Koop, M.D., Medical Director
In Service to Patients
For Koop, medical practice starts with two chairs. “The two chairs are the one I sit in and the one a mom or patient or caregiver sits in,” he explains. “This is what Gillette is about. Someone who says, ‘Help,’ and someone in the other chair to say, ‘That’s my work. To help you.’ All of medicine collapses to that interchange. The rest is in service to that relationship.”
Serving the relationship between patient and physician has been Koop’s mission since he joined Gillette as a young orthopedic surgeon in 1985. In the 30 ensuing years, he’s served in various roles, including surgeon, chief of staff and medical director. But his vision of putting the patient first has never wavered.
“All organizations have an administrative hierarchy,” Koop says. “But in reality, we all work for the same employer, and that’s our patient. Everyone plays a role in that service, including nonclinical staff. Buying the best product or getting the right information system is all in service to the patient”
As medical director, Koop has been a defining force in the direction Gillette has taken for the past three decades. His influences can be found everywhere, from our world-renowned James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis, which he helped open in 1987, to our Motor Delay Diagnosis and Treatment Clinic established in 2015.
Koop has long championed the Gillette integrated care model and has been integral to its continued growth.
“Even before I came to Gillette, Steve was adamant about the importance of families having all of the specialists they need under one roof,” says Tom Novacheck, M.D., associate medical director for the Center for Gait and Motion Analysis who has worked with Koop since 1991. “I see so many patients who travel a great distance because they value the communication and the care coordination we offer, largely because of Steve.”
Mark Gormley, M.D., associate medical director for physical medicine and rehabilitation, agrees. “Steve Koop’s mantra has always been ‘do what’s best for the patient.’ The great success of Gillette reflects his ongoing leadership in this commitment.”
That Gillette has an unwavering commitment to serving patients who have medically complex conditions is a source of pride for Koop. “We’ve been able to hold our focus, and that’s no small accomplishment considering how much change has occurred in 30 years,” he says. “We’re much bigger and more diverse in our service. There are more specialties involved today, but we still have a mission to serve this certain group of patients. That’s the thing I’m most proud of for the organization as a whole.”
See a timeline of Gillette growth and achievements during Steven Koop's 30-year tenure in our 2015 Annual Report.