Helping burn physicians and patients as a medical student crystallized a career path for Dr. Terry Lewis. Four decades later, he stands as a beacon of hope for people in need of care for injuries that can be quite severe.
“Burn patients often require long-term hospitalization, and I had the chance to develop strong bonds with these individuals as they healed,” he said, discussing his time in medical school. “This experience building relationships with patients led me to focus on burn care throughout my career.”
Under Lewis’ leadership, the UMC Lions Burn Care Center transformed from a small unit to a world-class, 16-bed burn center featuring the latest medical technology, a fully equipped rehabilitation gym, advanced surgical procedures and a team that currently includes 80 employees.
“Dr. Lewis essentially built our burn center into what it is today,” UMC Burn Program Manager Mary Martinat said.
Lewis received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Nebraska and completed his residency at UMC. He stayed at UMC and also served as an instructor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. In addition to starting his own private practice, Lewis was also part of the team that helped establish trauma services at UMC. In the mid-1980s, he became UMC’s first trauma chairman as the Trauma Department developed.
In 1988, he became the medical director of the UMC Lions Burn Care Center, the only burn center in Nevada and one of only a handful of hospitals in the country to be verified as a burn center by the American Burn Association and the committee on trauma of the American College of Surgeons.
“I served in this position until 2011, and today I continue my work as a burn, trauma and general surgeon, caring for patients across the hospital,” Lewis said. “At this point in my career, I have the opportunity to focus more of my efforts on direct patient care. Each day, I round on my patients and work alongside them to promote the best possible medical outcomes.”
Last year, Lewis and his team marked the 50th anniversary of the UMC Lions Burn Care Center with a large-scale reunion of former patients.
“When I’m working long hours and feel tired, I think about the reunion and I remember why I do this — it’s about helping people,” said Lewis, who plans to retire in 2019. “I’m incredibly grateful for the Lions Club of Clark County and the organization’s continued support of our facility, and am also a supporter of UMC’s efforts to help pediatric burn patients attend camp activities where they have a chance to just be kids.”