Captain Dana C. Covey, MD, receives American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ highest leadership honor

LAS VEGAS (March 14, 2019)—The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) today presented the 2019 William W. Tipton, Jr., MD, Leadership Award to retired Navy Captain Dana C. Covey, MD at the Academy’s 2019 Annual Meeting.

Captain Dana C. Covey, MD
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The Tipton Leadership Award recognizes Academy members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities which have benefitted the orthopaedic community, patients, and/or the American public. The award honors and celebrates the life, accomplishments and qualities of the late William W. Tipton, Jr., MD, an orthopaedic surgeon, educator and former AAOS chief executive officer.

Dr. Covey, born in Woodland, CA, served in the U.S. Navy for over 40 years, ultimately rising to the rank of Captain. He is the former chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Naval Medical Center, San Diego and is currently Clinical Professor at the University of California San Diego. He has held multiple senior military leadership roles, including the senior orthopaedic consultant for the U.S. Navy, and has led hundreds of medical personnel overseas.

Dr. Covey was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marines, Sri Lanka, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and at sea in the Persian Gulf; more than nearly any other medical professional in the U.S. Military.

“Throughout his career, he’s consistently sacrificed his own time, energy, and promotion to advance others,” said Marc F. Swiontkowski, MD, professor at the University of Minnesota. “He has done this in the most extreme circumstances requiring leadership in both threatening and non-threatening environments.”

Captain Matthew T. Provencher, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences who calls Dr. Covey his mentor, colleague and leader, explained: “Captain Covey’s contributions have had a profound long-term and impactful effect on the science and art of military and trauma orthopaedics. He has dedicated a lifetime to transcending the international borders of military and civilian trauma care. His work has saved many lives.”

Dr. Covey pioneered changes in orthopaedic care delivered in war and disaster zones, pioneering life-saving orthopaedic trauma principles and sparing patients from amputation. He conceived, developed and fielded a transportable surgical suite that is used at sea in the Navy today. He played a crucial role in developing a process to treat the wounded closer to the front lines, increasing the odds of receiving care during the “golden hour”- the window after a traumatic injury when getting treatment is most likely to prevent death. He also personally helped create a portable external fixator device for use in austere environments that has been adopted by both wartime orthopaedics and disaster relief/humanitarian assistance worldwide.

James R. Ficke, MD, Robert A. Robinson Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Chairman of orthopaedic surgery noted that Dr. Covey also is also a “triple threat educator” who has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers on topics including damage-control orthopaedics, blast injury, humanitarian outreach, and leadership. “It is very important to realize that producing scholarly work in a military practice represents a completely unique high level of effort: essentially lacking editorial staff, research assistants, or infrastructure in most cases.

In spite of these challenges, Dr. Covey has held over thirteen funded grants and excelled as a clinician-scholar,” said Dr. Ficke. He is the past recipient of many prestigious national military and medical recognitions and accolades, including the Colonel Brian Allgood Lifetime Award for Leadership in Orthopaedic Surgery from the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Most of all, he is a humble, unassuming servant leader who set an impeccable example for generations of physicians”

Dr. Covey has touched thousands of military and civilian students through teaching and mentorship. In collaboration with the AAOS, he created an education course for surgeons on treating war injuries. He also pioneered the creation of the AAOS Visiting Trauma Scholars Program in Landstuhl, Germany. The program gave numerous AAOS members an opportunity to care for high-end trauma patients. Injured military personnel received high-quality care, AAOS members gained valuable experience, and positive relationships were built.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Covey has maintained a constant focus on helping advance the careers of young orthopaedic surgeons,” Dr. Provencher recalled. “As a mentor of mine, Dr. Covey always demonstrated a devout interest, dedication, and patience towards my learning. His commitment to my improvement as physician and surgeon was inspiring. However, perhaps even more valuable was his leadership which made us all better people.”

To ensure students were receiving the most sophisticated training available, Dr. Covey successfully led the effort to build the Department of Defense’s most advanced medical training facility. The $5.8 million space includes real-world, team-based simulators designed to improve patient safety and quality.

Colleagues call Dr. Covey a bridge-builder, skilled at developing consensus and finding solutions that benefit all parties. They describe him as a mentor committed to fairness and inclusion.

Photos of the award ceremony are available upon request.

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About the AAOS

With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

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