Internist Charles Keevil, MD Receives Emerson Hospital Compassionate Care Award
Internist Charles Keevil, MD of Lincoln was recently presented with the Terry Croteau Compassionate Care Award for his devotion to compassionate and personalized care throughout his 54-year career at Emerson Hospital.
The award recognizes compassionate care as exemplified by the late Terry Croteau, an Emerson Hospital social worker who made an exceptional difference in the lives of her patients and co-workers. All Emerson physicians and employees involved in caring for patients and their families are eligible. The concept for the award grew out of Emerson’s involvement in the Boston-based Kenneth B. Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care.
“I am deeply grateful for this award,” said 87-year-old Dr. Keevil, who is currently on medical leave from Lincoln Physicians. “The thing that comes to mind is how fortunate I have been to work in a hospital with the basic gifts of caring, compassion and confidence. For this, I thank you.”
The award was presented by Jon DuBois, MD, physician leader of Emerson’s Schwartz Center Rounds and medical director of the Mass General Cancer Center at Emerson Hospital-Bethke. He noted that it is special because recipients are selected by their peers.
“Day in, day out, for decades, Dr. Keevil has bestowed compassionate care to countless patients, getting to know their children and families and becoming part of the fabric of their lives,” said Dr. DuBois. “Especially in this era of electronics and technology, we hope we will always have caregivers such as Dr. Keevil, who go beyond the call of duty.”
“Chuck is a pillar of this organization and what it stands for,” added Christine Schuster, president and CEO of Emerson Hospital. “He is one of the people who laid the foundation on which we will continue to build.”
This sentiment was echoed in multiple nomination forms that praised Dr. Keevil’s longevity, passion for medicine and inspiring commitment to patients, calling him a “giant when it comes to caregiving with empathy, respect and compassion.”
The standing room-only award ceremony, which drew frequent ovations and tears, included dozens of his fellow members of the hospital community; his wife of 62 years, Hannah; and three of their 10 biological and adopted children who gathered to honor and pay tribute to Dr. Keevil’s empathetic caregiving.
At the ceremony, Tia Keevil spoke about the strength she has drawn from her father’s decision to change career direction early in life. After studying biochemistry and biology at Bucknell University, he was drafted in 1944 and trained in the military as a medical lab technician. He spent four years post-discharge completing his undergraduate and master’s degree education at Amherst College, followed by a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin, before applying instead to Harvard Medical School out of preference for patients over research. He has practiced at Lincoln Physicians since his fellowship year in cardiology in 1958.
“It’s okay if you find yourself on the wrong path,” said Tia, noting her father’s influence in her decision to become a nurse in New York, “as long as you have the courage to change it.”
The medical tables were turned on Dr. Keevil in 2006, when he underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery and rehabilitation at Emerson so he could continue his favorite hobby, tennis. In fact, he credited the “truly excellent, focused and skillful” care from his fellow physicians, nurses and therapists with his speedy recovery. Reminded of what it is like to be a patient, Dr. Keevil noted at the time, “Hospitalization is a time of intense vulnerability.”
However, his colleagues say that awareness was always evident. Peter Hoenig, MD, who has practiced alongside Dr. Keevil at Lincoln Physicians for 22 years, said he admires how Dr. Keevil treats friends and patients alike with boundless interest, patience and respect. “Through his close attention, he gives us all dignity,” Dr. Hoenig said. “Thank you for all you have given us over the years, the most important of which is your example.”
Henry Valliant, MD recalled Dr. Keevil’s kindness during his own illness, calling him “an inspiration to all those who practice our craft.” Neurosurgery chief Robert Cantu, MD said he has worked to emulate Dr. Keevil throughout his own 45-year career at Emerson. Others lauded Dr. Keevil for his mentorship in professionally delivering compassionate care while blurring the line between patient and friend. In fact, Dr. Keevil’s portrait hangs in the Critical Care Unit as a reminder of the ethics to which every physician should aspire.
“We’re all so much better people for being a part of your world at Emerson and throughout the community,” Dr. DuBois concluded.
Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton and Westford. The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns. To learn more, visit www.emersonhospital.org.