Helping & Healing Musicians
Whether performing “At The Hop” at Woodstock in the band Sha Na Na or performing arthroscopic surgery, Dr. Scott Powell has answered more than one calling in life. Today, as the founder of the Pierre Cossette Center for Orthopedic Surgery and as a supporter of MusiCares, he is uniquely in touch with musicians’ special needs.
Long before the Pierre Cossette Center for Orthopedic Surgery was founded, Pierre Cossette, best known as the longtime producer of GRAMMY Awards telecasts, approached Powell and his Sha Na Na bandmates with the proposition of starring in their own comedic variety TV show. “Sha Na Na” was first broadcast in 1977 and continued for four seasons.
It was Cossette who helped Dr. Powell get his start after medical school, a relationship that eventually resulted in the founding of the Pierre Cossette Center for Orthopedic Surgery.
As a doctor now, some of Dr. Powell’s greatest fulfillment comes from making a difference in the lives of the people he treats.
“My transition was from playing in a full arena, full to the back of the house, to talking with a patient one-on-one,” says Dr. Powell. “There is no more intimate setting than hearing someone’s story, and I get to hear them all day long.”
The conditions Dr. Powell treats range across a “broad spectrum. It can be carpal tunnel syndrome in a guitar player, shoulder problems in a violinist, ACL injury in a rigger, or vocal cord nodes in a singer. Also, as we all live longer, degenerative conditions such as arthritis come into the picture.”
As he became better established in medicine, Dr. Powell decided it was also time to give back to music by becoming active in multiple professional associations and international charitable organizations.
“I quickly found MusiCares,” he says. “It was a natural fit.”
Working with MusiCares, Dr. Powell kept finding new ways to help more musicians, including a network of other doctors dedicated to the cause. Thanks to the tremendous response from other providers, Powell has seen the MusiCares Medical Network grow with new professionals coming on board to protect the health of America’s music community.
“After we got the Pierre Cossette Center up and running, it was clear that we needed to provide other services,” Dr. Powell says. “I started to reach out to doctors in other specialties as more clients came through the doors with non-orthopedic problems. As I made calls to other physicians, they were not only willing but eager to help. We began to think we could organize a MusiCares Medical Network to serve clients across the country. … We now have over 65 providers in the network and it continues to expand.”
One thing the uninsured musicians Dr. Powell has treated through MusiCares have in common is gratitude.
“The clients are extremely appreciative of MusiCares and the help they’ve received,” he says. “To a person they ask what they can do to help — play a benefit, donate their time. What we ask them to do is let their friends know so that we can provide more services to more music people.”
As Dr. Powell continues his positive work for the music community, he says “reliable access for musicians to affordable health care” remains a tough challenge to meet.
“The last thing an artist thinks about is health care,” Dr. Powell continues. “There are so many other priorities for an artist and healthcare seems like a luxury. Many musicians are young so they don’t think they will need to see a doctor.”
For Dr. Powell, being able to come full circle and give back to the music industry is one of the greatest parts of his job.
“It is very gratifying to be able to share my medical skills with the music community where I started my career.”