DETROIT – In his 14 years as an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Henry Ford Health System, Joseph Hoegler, M.D., has seen his share of broken bones and crushing injuries. But the degree of trauma suffered by a local football coach from a near-fatal car accident presented its own unique challenges.
The injuries suffered by Greg Piscopink included a broken pelvis, ribs and left foot, a dislocated right foot, a cracked right thigh bone, multiple breaks in his lower left leg and a shattered right hip. The accident also caused an aorta tear and brain bleed. He also required facial reconstruction surgery to repair five facial fractures and had to have his jaw wired shut for more than two months. In all, Piscopink underwent nine critical surgeries in less than two weeks and was hospitalized for two months at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a Level-1 trauma center.
“While each of the injuries were not the worst I’ve seen individually in other patients, all of them together in one patient, put him in the top 5 percent of multiple trauma cases I’ve seen,” said Dr. Hoegler, Interim Chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery.
When Piscopink arrived at Henry Ford by air ambulance from another hospital, less than an hour after the accident on Aug. 15, 2018, his wife Jennifer was told the chances of survival were grim.
“I had a ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and he needed to be put back together, and the Henry Ford team put him back together,” she said.
She chose to have her husband transferred to Henry Ford because of its expertise in treating trauma cases and people who are critically ill. Depending on the nature of a trauma case, the orthopedic trauma team may be one of several specialty disciplines involved in the care of patients including acute care surgery, neurosurgery, emergency medicine and vascular surgery.
“The multidisciplinary care provided to patients is coordinated very seamlessly between our medical teams,” said Dr. Hoegler. “Patients can be assured they’re getting the best care available, as was the case with Greg.”
Piscopink, an assistant football coach at Birmingham Brother Rice, was injured when the car he was riding in veered off the road and crashed. The car was driven by his son Gregory, the team’s starting quarterback at the time. Father and son were driving home after a football practice. While Gregory escaped serious injury, his dad had to be removed from the wreckage using the Jaws of Life.
Piscopink underwent six orthopedic surgeries, of which Dr. Hoegler performed five of them. The last one to remove a plate and screws was performed this past April.
Piscopink, who returned to coaching in 2019, recently reconnected with Dr. Hoegler and expressed his gratitude. “Dr. Hoegler played a big role in saving my life and I really appreciate him and what he did for me. I’m so thankful he had the medical skills and experience to deal with my severe injuries and provide the care he did,” said Piscopink.
Dr. Hoegler attributed Piscopink’s survival to his will to live, positive attitude and sense of humor.
“There are a lot of ups and downs that come with severe injuries like Greg’s,” said Dr. Hoegler. “His life was normal one second and completely flipped upside down, not just for him but for his entire family.”
It was Piscopink’s positive approach that helped him forge a personal connection with Dr. Hoegler that continues today.
“I’ve always been a positive person but surviving the accident has taken me to another level of having an optimistic outlook on life,” said Piscopink. “I continue to get better at coaching, I continue to get better at teaching and all the things that are important to me.”
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About Henry Ford Health System
Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan. Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.
The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants. The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit.
As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. Our dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.
Henry Ford’s not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP), provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.
Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.