Published on August 06, 2020

Cornish Retires from Orthopedics

Photo of Dr. Eric Cornish and his wife Shelly at their home on Lake Huron.

Eric Cornish, M.D., has retired after serving patients in Alpena for more than 20 years. He will remain connected to MidMichigan Health and will continue collaborating with colleagues on orthopedic research. He and wife, Shelly, are pictured at their home on Lake Huron.

Local orthopedic surgeon Eric Cornish, M.D., has a new set of tools to learn to use, and they are for his grill. After serving the Alpena community for 24 years, Cornish retired on July 10.

Cornish and his wife, Shelly, have been working out the details for retiring for a few years. And, although he will not be holding clinics or seeing patients on a regular basis, Cornish plans to stay connected to the profession he has loved for more than 35 years.

Cornish graduated from North Eastern Ohio Medical University in 1983. After practicing on the east coast for some years, he moved to Michigan. Having had training experience at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, he knew he was more drawn to northern Michigan, particularly Alpena, for its beauty, excellent sailing, and small community.

“I liked the idea of coordinating with and functioning within a single hospital,” Cornish explained. “From the beginning – even though being isolated presents certain challenges – it felt like pure medicine. Things ran smoothly, and there was a familiarity amongst staff and patients you don’t get in bigger cities. It was just a good fit for me.”

Cornish would be the first to say that things have changed quite a bit since he started out, but most often for the better. “Technology is obviously superior now,” he said. “Having digital images helps us with the most accurate diagnosis and allows us to easily collaborate with colleagues because they are literally simple to share. Most recently, I think the affiliation with MidMichigan Health has been great for Alpena. Access to specialists, cost savings as a result of economies of scale and the new patient tower build are all huge benefits for both medical staff and patients in our community.”

Cornish went on to talk about the logistics of the operating rooms that will be built into the new addition at the hospital. First-floor surgical suites with more space to fit equipment like fracture tables, centralized storage with easy access and comforting surroundings for patients are all important upgrades in his view. The new construction is scheduled to be completed in spring of 2022. “I look forward to seeing the completed project,” he said.

Cornish will be staying on as a casual employee of MidMichigan Health, filling in or consulting on complex cases when needed. His recommendations of common-sense measures to avoid needing an orthopedic surgeon include: maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and working on retaining a good sense of balance as many needs for surgery come as a result of falls. And, he has every confidence in the current roster of local orthopedic specialists. “The orthopedic practice has technically excellent surgeons and four physician assistants now. They are a competent and caring group.” Cornish is also actively researching and collaborating with peers on a paper for the Michigan Arthroplasty Registry on the bio-mechanics of knee replacement, an endeavor he was always interested in but didn’t have time for until now. 

Chuck Sherwin, president, MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena, acknowledged Cornish’s contributions to MidMichigan Health. “Dr. Cornish has done an outstanding job caring for so many members of our community; he has been a cornerstone of our orthopedic program,” said Sherwin. “We are happy to have him stay on in a new capacity and to continue offering support to our team and patients.”

Cornish is looking forward to spending time traveling and hiking with Shelly who also retired this year from Alpena Public Schools. They were slated to travel to Europe this fall to visit each of the exchange students they have hosted over the years but have delayed plans until it is safer to do so. They have also updated their hiking equipment and have been exploring local trails until they can revisit the Appalachian Trail. They will both be happy to have more time to relax with family and friends. And, Cornish promises to learn to utilize those grilling tools gifted him from his co-workers upon retiring.