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Honoring A Saint Francis Hero: James G. Garrick, MD

Foundation News & Updates

Honoring James G. Garrick, MD

The Saint Francis Foundation, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, and the field of orthopedics lost a wonderful friend, physician, and visionary on July 23, 2022. James G. (Jim) Garrick, MD, who pioneered and evolved the field of sports medicine as the founder and Medical Director of Saint Francis Memorial Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine, passed away at his home in Oregon, surrounded by his four beloved children and feline companion.

Jim was internationally renowned, co-author of five books on sports medicine, and a contributor to countless articles in prestigious medical journals. A friend and physician to some of the world’s most notable athletes and dancers, he never lost his touch or his interest in treating patients of all ages and from all walks of life– regardless of whether they were legendary sports figures, Olympic gold medalists, weekend warriors or just ordinary people in pain from causes unknown. His ability to communicate in simple, direct terms, and his groundbreaking book, “Peak Condition: Winning Strategies to Prevent, Treat, and Rehabilitate Sports Injuries” caught the attention of Jane Fonda, who, to Jim’s delight, invited him to collaborate on one of her workout videos.

James G. Garrick, MD

A native of Webster, South Dakota, and a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Medicine, Jim was proud of his Midwestern roots, and relished his annual summer road trip to the Black Hills and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. He did his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, specializing in orthopedic surgery and developing a specialty in sports-related injuries. Next stop was Seattle, where he founded the Sports Medicine Division at the University of Washington School of Medicine, served as the UW Huskies’ team physician, and lived on the Lake Union houseboat made famous by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle. A young, enterprising, and media-savvy physician, Jim’s work caught the attention of the New York Times, who called him “the silent 13th man on the field behind the 11 players and coach.”  However, new challenges and sunnier weather beckoned.

It was in the Bay Area and at Saint Francis that Jim truly made his life, his career, and his mark, forging deep and lasting friendships with colleagues, patients, and the community. He invested in making Saint Francis a world-class center for orthopedic excellence, founding the Center for Sports Medicine in 1979, the longest-running hospital-based athletic injury treatment program in the country. He was a stickler for amalgamating data on patient satisfaction, long before it became the norm, and was never shy or retiring about making his opinions known, particularly when they involved patient care, quality, technology, or governance.

James G. Garrick, MD

Jim used his reputation and people skills to attract world-class talent to Saint Francis, including Victor Prieto, MD, who succeeded Jim as the Center’s Medical Director and who now serves as the Hospital’s Chief of Medicine. Jim’s larger-than-life personality was a staple for decades in the Hospital and Foundation Board rooms, and his leadership was central to the 2009 opening of the state-of-the-art Center for Sports Medicine on the 11th Floor, which is named in his honor. Jim served as chair of the Saint Francis Foundation from 2014-2015.

Jim loved a good party, and nothing more than celebrating with friends over dinner and a nice glass of wine. With that in mind, the Foundation will honor Jim at this year’s Hob Nob, a San Francisco holiday tradition since 1989, and one that he never missed.  We look forward to sharing memories and celebrating Jim’s extraordinary life and contributions to Saint Francis on December 3 at 7 p.m. Please join us.