By Juliet Farmer
It’s no secret that hobbies can provide relaxation and stress relief. Among the more unusual–collecting and racing vintage cars, dancing professionally, and riding horseback as a deputy sheriff—there’s also fun, excitement and the chance to share enthusiasm with like-minded individuals.
Dr. R. Trigg McClellan, associate clinical professor and clinical director of the biomechanics lab, and his colleague, Dr. Amir Matityahu, assistant clinical professor and director of the surgical training center, are part of the newly created Orthopaedic Trauma Institute at UCSF/ San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH).
Both men have also parlayed an interest in horses into yet another way to serve the public and save lives. The pair joined the San Francisco Mounted Sheriff Unit in 2005. This citizens volunteer organization, also known as the “Sheriff’s Posse,” is comprised of 32 men and women who have a love for horses and civic duty. The program’s efforts include search and rescue in times of need, such as earthquakes, fires and other mass casualty disasters; representing the Sheriff’s Department in parades (St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day) to aid in public relations; and participating in volunteer training, both as teachers and students.
The physicians have demonstrated how to splint broken bones, administer general first aid, and address the medical aspects of gunshot wounds and how to treat them. They are also trained in horse care and participate in basic pistol safety and range time, learning to shoot revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.
“Most of us have been riding our whole lives,” explains Dr. McClellan of his deputy sheriff colleagues, adding that all are required to possess a horse—whether it’s rented, leased or owned outright. McClellan’s mount is Mr. Goodster, a 15 ½ hand dark bay quarter horse. Dr. Matityahu’s horse, Dunnit Brilliant, a 14 ½ hand buckskin gelding, also logs time at Victory Ranch, Inc., a local equestrian nonprofit organization founded by one of the former mounted sheriff members. Both doctors have donated horses to this venture, which uses horses to provide innovative programs to disadvantaged, underserved, neglected or abused kids as well as kids with life threatening illnesses.
Drs. McClellan and Matityahu prefer the western discipline of reining, and both have competed on a regional level with their horses via the National Reining Horse Association and The American Quarter Horse Association.
Dr. McClellan was born in Ann Arbor, Mich. and grew up in Nashville, Tenn., where he worked on his dad’s farm riding horses. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1981. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Michigan in 1986, his advanced fellowship training in orthopaedic traumatology at SFGH from 1986 to 1987, and another fellowship in spinal surgery at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
In 1989, Dr. McClellan joined the faculty at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) in San Jose with a clinical appointment at Stanford University as clinical associate professor of orthopaedic surgery. He was recruited to the faculty of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the UCSF, as an orthopaedic traumatologist and spine surgeon at SFGH. He received an appointment as associate clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at UCSF, and is one of a handful of orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S. to have completed fellowships in both trauma and spine surgery.
Dr. Matityahu was born in Israel and moved to Palo Alto in 1978, where he learned English as a second language and went on to graduate from the Hahnemann University Medical School in Philadelphia in 1997. He received his orthopaedic residency training from Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, and further trained in orthopaedic traumatology through a fellowship at the Adams R. Cowley Shock Trauma Center, a world-renowned trauma center. In 2003, Dr. Amir Matityahu joined the staff at UCSF/SFGH. He is presently the director of pelvis and acetabular trauma reconstruction at SFGH and is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the UCSF.
Both physicians are also innovators and have developed a number of patented devices that may someday improve surgical outcomes in the orthopaedic patient.
The men agree that medicine comes first, and whether in their daily work, or in their volunteering with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, it’s a team effort.
“It’s a big responsibility–if something happens in San Francisco, we respond,” explains Dr. Matityahu. “A horse can go anywhere, so we have to be available to lend our expertise when it’s needed.”
Whether it’s treating orthopaedic patients or engaging in various Deputy Sheriff duties, San Francisco is in good hands with McClellan and Matityahu at the reins.
For some Bay Area physicians, free time leads to interesting and creative outlets. So the next time you’re at a car show, a dance studio or even attending a local parade, don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face—that of one of your colleagues.