Tackling Trauma Together: Local Father and Son Team Up at Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s Busy Trauma Center

September 13, 2021 Providence News Team

Trauma can often pull families apart – but at Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, it’s pulling one local family closer together.

For more than two decades, Robert White, M.D. of Napa has been performing emergency surgery at the hospital, caring for victims of trauma and emergency illness. Now, his son Keith is joining him on the surgery team at the hospital’s Level II Trauma Center.

The younger White, an American Board of Surgery certification candidate, is completing a specialized post-surgery training fellowship in Trauma and Critical Care Surgery at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. In August, he will assume his duties at Santa Rosa Memorial, which has one of the busiest non-university trauma centers in the country.

“Our role in providing this level of care for people in Sonoma County and beyond means we’re always in need of additional surgeons who are trained to handle the intensive demands of traumatic cases,” said Dr. Robert White. “The training that Keith has gotten is some of the best out there. Now, he’ll get to put that to use for the people of the region where he grew up.”

The elder White was recruited to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital more than 20 years ago by Dr. Brian Schmidt to become one of the founding surgeons on the hospital’s original trauma surgery team. Before that, Robert White had been serving as the Director of Trauma Surgery at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where he has lived for many years with his wife, Celeste White. But he also had close ties to Santa Rosa, and the opportunity to be part of building a trauma team under Dr. Schmidt sealed the deal.

“I have always been impressed with the trauma leadership under Dr. Schmidt at Santa Rosa Memorial, and it has been a joy to have cared for the injured of Sonoma County and of the North Coast for so many years,” he said.

Now, the elder Dr. White has the opportunity to take the mentoring role, while Dr. Keith White becomes one of the “new guard” of trauma surgeons in the community.

“My father’s work was a huge influence on my decision to go into medicine and train to become a trauma surgeon,” Keith White said. “Now, I’m looking forward to actually working side by side with him and learning from his long experience. The cases that come to Santa Rosa Memorial are both complex and challenging and it will be invaluable to have such an accomplished teacher.”

The father-son team have worked closely before – but it was a shared love of horses that created the bond. During his youth, the younger White spent his summers caring for horses at the Wild Oak Saddle Club and the Wine Country Polo Club, both located at Trione Field in Oakmont. He shared those hot summers at the Oakmont club with Robert and Celeste White, who encouraged him in his love of animals and the wine country, as well as medicine.

Medicine runs deep in the White family. Every generation of the family, going back five generations, has boasted at least one physician. Another of Robert and Celeste White’s children, Keith’s sister Camille Knopf, combined the family’s history of medicine and love of horses to become a veterinarian specializing in equine care near Lake Tahoe. Keith’s younger brother, Collin, heads Stitches Medical, an adaptive medical clothing company in producing daily wear garments specially designed for people with medical conditions and disabilities.

In addition to his work on the Santa Rosa Memorial trauma team, Keith White also will join the Providence Medical Group, as well as performing general, laparoscopic and robotic surgery at both Santa Rosa Memorial and Sutter Health Hospital in Santa Rosa. And when he’s not tending to trauma victims, you’ll probably find him tending to horses on the sidelines of the Saddle Club.

“I’m just so thrilled to be able to have my professional life revolve around the things that meant so much to me growing up – medicine and horses,” he said. “I had always dreamed about coming back to Sonoma County and the Wild Oak area. To be able to do that aside my father is a dream come true.”


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